David Paul Yonggi Cho
Former Head of the World Assemblies of God Council and Pastor of the biggest Christian church in the worldby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
The life of one of God's greatest servants, Paul Yonggi Cho, he was born on February 14, 1936, In South Korea. He was the first born of five sons and four daughters. His father was Doo-chun Cho and his mom was Bok-sun Kim.
When Paul was growing up he was greatly influenced and trained in Buddhism, Confucianism and Eastern studies. Cho who was a very good student graduated with honors. Cho's father failed a position in the elected office; because of this his whole family was ruined. After this, Paul had to attend a technical high school to gain skills that were suited for applying for a job soon after graduating. An American army base was near his school and he was able to learn English from the soldiers at the base. Because he had a very good English he became an interpreter for the principal of his school and chief commander at the army base.
When he was 17 and a sophomore in high school, Yonggi Cho got tuberculosis, Cho almost died from this. Even as he was close to death, he continued to study English by memorizing from the English dictionary and his lesson books. Then his sister's Christian friend visited him, and he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
Yonggi Cho went to his hometown to continue receiving treatment for the disease. One day he attended a crusade in Pusan led by missionary Ken Tize, and he received healing from God. That night he met Christ, Yonggi Cho was called by God to study theology. He came to Seoul in 1956 and entered the pentecostal's Full Gospel Bible College on a scholarship. His healing had catipulted him into the positive faith movement.
After this Yonggi started a church in his house, the home church began to grow more and more and had a membership of fifty. Then a tent was put out in the yard. At night, even in winter, church members prayed all night. The church grew so fast that after three years they had a congregation of four-hundred people. The Yoido Full Gospel Church now claims over 800,000 members. "In South Korea Dr. Yonggi Cho invites catechumens into his 'Full Gospel' Church with a promise of bounding riches and bouncing bodies... an abominable prosperity-cult... "1
Cho has said, "You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth...He is bound by your lips and by your words...Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence."2 Thus, Paul Yonggi Cho is critizied by many evangelicals for teaching that faith and prayer are methods to control God. In Evangelicals Now, April 1995, p.9, Cho is quoted, ""God has a tremendous need, and we minister to his need of fellowship". Hank Hanegraaff, in Christianity in Crisis (p.353), claims Cho's teaching "is nothing short of occultism..." and "a departure from historic Christian theology...".
The evidence from this departure comes from Cho's own publications. In his two volume book, The Fourth Dimension, Cho says, "Through visualizing and dreaming you can incubate your future and hatch the results," much "like a hen sitting on her eggs, incubating them and hatching chickens" (vol. 1, 44, 43). Cho's doctrines are clearly influenced by New Age beliefs. He goes on to teach that "Sokagakkai [Soka Gakkai] has applied the law of the fourth dimension and has performed miracles" (p. 64). Likewise, "many people involved in yoga are healing the sick by yoga meditation...in Buddhism monks also have performed fantastic miracles" (vol. 1, 36-37; vol. 2, 36). He states that if non-Christians are able to accomplish incredible feats via the fourth dimension3, then Christians, using the same means, ought to be able to do all that and much more (vol. 1, 37, 41). These writings support the accusation that Cho's ideas are "rooted in Buddhist and occult teachings" (p.149, Charismatic Chaos, by Dr. John F. MacArthur).
Although Cho became the pastor of the biggest Church in the world, there are plenty of cults who also have hundreds of thousands of followers. The Buddhist cult of Soka Gakkai that Cho compliments, entered Korea from Japan in the 1960s. In 1954 the Unification Church was founded by a North Korean refugee, Sun Myung Moon, whose cult followers became known as Moonies. As Cho admired the techniques employed by his contemporaies to increase the number of followers, he instituted a sheparding style of cell group under the leadership of his faithful who could control members through prophesy and other supplementary words from God apart from the Bible.
1 Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. "Religion " in The Future Now: Predicting the 21st Century. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1998), pg. 53. (as quoted on http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_179.html)
2 Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Volume One [So. Plainfield, NJ: Bridge Publishing, 1979], p.83. (as quoted on http://www.gospelgrace.com/falseprophets/paulyonggicho/yonggicho.html).
3 Robert Schuller writes in the foreword to Yonggi Cho's book, The Fourth Dimension: "I discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing.... Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It's true. It works. I tried it."
"name it and claim it" is a common name (at least common in Assemblies of God circles, and particularly common in the 80's and 90's) for a particular subset of dominion theology known as "Word-Faith", "Positive Confession" (this is actually the name that Cho typically refers to it as), "Health and Wealth Gospel" or--most recently--"Prosperity Gospel". physical health and financial prosperity are as much a part of God's will. "Cho teaches that positive thinking, positive speaking, and positive visualization are the keys to success, and that anyone can literally "incubate" and give birth to physical reality by creating a vivid image in his or her mind and focusing upon it." (solascriptura-tt.org). Most leaders at Cho's Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, are women (www.godswordtowomen.org)
Well-known personalities within the Word-Faith (name it and claim it) movement include Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, Paul Yonggi Cho, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, Frederick K.C. Price, John Avanzini, Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, Morris Cerullo and Paul and Jan Crouch (who own Trinity Broadcasting (TBN), the largest Christian-based television network in the world).