Do you remember a story in 2011 where a man got arrested after shooting at the White House? Did you ever hear why? Well, that guy thought he was the second-coming of Jesus Christ, and he needed to stop Obama, the antichrist, from ruling the world. His name was Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. In a video addressing Oprah, he announced his divinity and said, “It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for.”
Many others have claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, and unfortunately, some of them aren’t as on-the-fringe as Oscar. They have duped thousands, even millions of followers. Yet the true Jesus has said to us:
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:23-27
The following are twelve of the most notorious prophets who claimed to be the return of Jesus. Some of this is just downright ridiculous and will probably make you laugh. But we need to have broken hearts and remember that unless false teachers and their followers repent, they will stand before the true Christ in judgment who will say to them, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.”
We must remain committed to the true words of the Bible, preaching them to the world, and exposing the fruitless works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The false gospel will damn (Galatians 1:8-9). Only the true gospel has the power to save (Romans 1:16).
Ever heard of the Shakers? Less popularly known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, they were called the “Shaking Quakers” or just Shakers because of their spasmatic behavior during their worship services (hmmm, that sounds familiar). The sect was founded in 18th century England, known for practicing communal living and egalitarianism, believing that the second coming of Christ would be through a woman. Along came Ann Lee who said she was the female incarnation and second coming of Christ. Mother Ann, as she was known, preached that sex of any kind, even sex in marriage, was lustful, and told her followers to forsake marriage (which 1 Timothy 4:1-3 calls the teaching of demons). The Shakers are still around, though I’m not sure how that’s possible if they aren’t allowed to breed. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, located in Maine, is said to be the last existing Shaker community.
From among the Mormons came a guy named Arnold Potter who also went by Potter Christ. In 1840, Potter was ordained by Mormon founder Joseph Smith and given the Melchizedek priesthood, becoming one of the seventy. In 1856, Potter was called by Latter-Day Saint Church President, Brigham Young, to serve as a missionary in Australia. It was on that trip that Potter claims that he became Potter Christ, Son of the living God. What else can you expect from a religion based entirely on new revelation? He moved back to Independence, MO, which the Mormons claim is the true Zion, then to Council Bluffs, IA where he maintained a group of devout followers. In 1878, on the day of his death, he rode on a donkey up to the bluffs and told his disciples it was time for him to ascend into heaven. Then he jumped off the cliff, and… well, I’m sure you can guess what happened.
In 1844, a man named Sayid Ali Muhammad claimed to be the Bab (meaning “Gate”), the eighth manifestation of God and first since Muhammad. Before his execution by Persian and Ottoman authorities in 1850, the Bab spoke of a coming prophet. On April 22, 1863, Mirza Husayn Ali, one of the Bab’s followers (also called Babis), claimed to be the fulfillment of that prophesy. He took the name Baha’u’llah, which means “the glory of God,” founder of the Baha’i faith who claimed to be the second coming of Christ. The faith believes it is the reconciliation of all major religions; therefore, Baha’u’llah is not just the second coming of Christ but the fulfillment of the greatest prophets in every major religion. Their yearly annual conferences are held in Haifa, Israel. It is estimated that the Baha’i faith has up to 8 million members, about as large as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and half as large as Mormonism. But unlike those two religions, the Baha’i do not believe in proselytizing. The Baha’i faith is monotheistic, but says that God is unknowable.
|The Baha’i House of Worship for North America, located in Wilmette, IL.|
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
An Indian religious leader and founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Ahmad claimed to be the coming of the Mahhdi, the redeemer of Islam, in the likeness of Jesus. In 1891, he claimed that God told him, “The Messiah, son of Mary, Prophet of Allah, had died and thou hast come in accordance with the promise.” Ahmad is among the first, certainly the most influential, to suggest that Jesus survived his crucifixion. He then traveled to India where he died a natural death. Therefore, since he died of natural causes, Jesus would not return physically but would return in the likeness that Ahmad represented. Ahmad’s teachings continue to be followed by an estimated 10 to 20 million people to this day, though he’s considered a false prophet by most Muslims.
John Hugh Smyth-Pigott
The Agapemonites, also known as the Community of the Son of Man, was founded in 1846 by the Reverend Henry Prince, a former minister in the Church of England. Prince gained several interested followers which he narrowed down to primarily wealthy single women, and initiated what he called “spiritual marriage” (as opposed to a legal marriage, I guess). Prince believed himself to be the visible embodiment of the Holy Spirit. He lost a number of followers in 1856 after a ceremonial act of public sex in front of a large audience. Those who remained received titles such as the “Anointed Ones,” the “Angels of the Last Trumpet,” and the “Seven Witnesses.” After he died in 1899, he was succeeded by John Hugh Smyth-Pigott who claimed to be Jesus Christ reincarnate. The claim apparently traveled from England all the way to India, where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad condemned Smyth-Pigott as a false teacher, and warned him that it would result in a miserable end. So one false Jesus said to another false Jesus, “You can’t be Jesus, I am!” The last member of the Agapemonites died in 1956 and the cult came to an end, but not before having produced several illegitimate children.
Haile Selassie I
Though Selassie never claimed to be Jesus Christ, he had a group of followers who did. When Selassie became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, a group of worshipers in Jamaica hailed him as the second coming of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you’ve heard of them — the Rastafarians. Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael, which is where Rastafari gets its name (“ras” means “head” in Amharic, and the name Tafari means one who is revered). But Selassie was not so on-board with the whole worshiping thing. He sent an archbishop to Jamaica telling them to convert to Ethiopian Orthodox. The parts of Rastafari that remain popular today are the smoking of pot and rejection of materialism and oppression. It gained widespread recognition thanks to reggae music and Bob Marley. But the whole thing started because they believed the Emperor of Ethiopia was the second-coming of Christ. True Rastafarians believe Selassie’s death in 1975 was a hoax, and he still reigns on earth to this day.
|Yes, Bob Marley believed Selassie was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.|
James Warren Jones
Perhaps you know all about crack-pot Jim Jones and the mass murder-suicide of his cult in Jonestown, Guyana, killing 918 people by cyanide poisoning, the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan, and Jim Jones himself with a gunshot wound to the head. What you might not know about Jones is that he claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ — also the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, Buddha, Vladimir Lenin, and African American spiritual leader Father Divine, who also had claimed to be God. It’s from the Jonestown deaths that we get the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid,” when a person goes along with a false teacher or group that may have dangerous consequences. Until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Jonestown was the largest loss of American civilian life by a single event. By the way, that happened in November, 1978, 38 years ago this month.
A former Seventh-Day Adventist, the church excommunicated him in 1962 and twenty-three people followed him. Two years later, he founded the Witnesses of Jesus Church of God. After his death in 1985, the church split and formed the New Covenant Passover Church of God with both churches claiming Ahn as their founder. Ahn was among some of the end-times kooks who thought the beginning of the modern state of Israel was a sign of the end of the world, which he predicted would happen in 1988. He died before he saw his prophecy flop. The Witnesses of Jesus Church of God maintain that Ahn is the Second Coming of Christ (even though he’s dead). Arguments persist between the Witnesses New Covenants as to what Ahn actually claimed and taught. His churches have been planted in over 150 countries with 2 million registered members.
Sun Myung Moon
A Korean religious leader and media mogul who founded the Unification Church, Moon told his members that he was the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ. His influence is pretty incredible. His international media conglomerate, News World Communications, runs newspapers in South Korea, Japan, South America, and North America, including the Washington Times. Moon invested $1.7 billion in the Times, which he said was an “instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.” In the 1970s, he gave a speech in Washington D.C. about “God’s Hope for America,” attended by 300,000 people. He has also spoken in New York City at Madison Square Garden and at Yankee Stadium. He had many political ties, including relationships with Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush’s, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbechev, North Korean President Kim Il Sung, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. His book Divine Principle is considered Scripture by Unification Church adherents. Moon died in 2012 at the age of 92. His wife, Hak Ja Han, has assumed leadership in the church, and is believed to be a reincarnation of Eve.
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda
Born in Puerto Rico and based out of Miami, FL, Jose Miranda claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. He had millions of followers in several countries who sang songs to him and worshiped him as though he was Jesus. He would be introduced at church services as “king of kings and lord of lords.” Eventually, he also claimed to be the antichrist, and his followers showed their support by getting tattoos of 666, the mark of the beast. Miranda said that 666 wasn’t the devil’s number, but is actually the number of wisdom and shows who is truly following Jesus Christ. He was interviewed by Bill Maher in his mocumentary Religulous, where Miranda claimed there’s no more sin because he already died for our sins. NBC did an exposé on him, which you can view here. He died in 2013 of cirrhosis of the liver. His church maintains that he’s still Christ and has just become immortal. Even his own kids claim he is God.
Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop
In 1990, a then 29-year-old Russian man claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. His followers called him Vissarion. He founded a church called the Church of the Last Testament, and a utopian community called Petropavlovka, where eating meat, drinking alcohol, smoking, and cursing is prohibited. The community still exists, located in remote Siberia where Vissarion also lives, and reportedly has a population of 800. But it is said that including the surrounding churches that worship Vissarion, he has about 50,000 followers. There’s a YouTube video on this “Siberian Messiah” that has over 8 million views.
Claiming to be the “Appointed Son of God,” Apollo Quiboloy is the founder of a church in the Philippines called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, Inc. Like an American megachurch, he has turned this into an enterprise. He is the President and CEO of Sonshine Media Network International, he founded Sonshine Sports Management based in Davao City, and is attempting to infiltrate politics having anointed the next Philippian president in 2010. When the man he anointed failed to win the election, Quiboloy blamed his followers for not stepping up. According to Quiboloy, God has appointed him Son of God or the reincarnation of Jesus Christ to become the Savior of the Gentiles. He claims to be sinless, and that God has given him the authority to enforce the laws of the Kingdom throughout the world. It is estimated that he has over 6 million followers, most of whom are in the Philippines with 2 million abroad.
|This is a false christ warning about other false christs.|
(Dis) Honorable Mentions
- William W. Davies, another from the Mormon camp, began the Kingdom of Heaven sect in Walla Walla, WA. Davies claimed he was the archangel Michael who previously lived the lives of Adam, Abraham, and David. When his son Arthur was born, February 11, 1868, Davies declared him the reincarnated Christ. He would become known as Walla Walla Jesus, and his followers increased. He had another son whom Davies said was the reincarnated God the Father. Both children died of diphtheria, and his followers sued him.
- Marshall Applewhite, though not as notorious as Jim Jones, was also an American kook cult-leader who convinced his followers to commit murder-suicide. Applewhite was the founder of the Heaven’s Gate cult back in the 90s, and called himself, “I, Jesus, Son of God.” He convinced his followers to kill themselves so they could rendezvous with the mothership flying in the tail of the comet Hale-Bopp.
- Wayne Bent, a former Seventh-Day Adventist pastor, founded Lord Our Righteousness Church, also called Strong City near Clayton, NM. Bent claimed, “I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined.” He went to prison for allegedly having sex with a minor, but was released due to a mistrial. There have been numerous investigations into Bent’s cult practices. His community still exists, and Bent is still writing stuff online. It was reported this year that he has cancer.
- Mitsuo Matayoshi founded the World Econominic Community Party in Japan, a political party he started based on his claim that he is Jesus Christ. Within this claim, Matayoshi says that he will be the one judging all mankind at the end of the world according to the current political system.
- Hogen Fukunaga, also from Japan, founded Ho No Sanpogyo, known as the Foot Reading Cult. Fukunaga attended a Clinton fundraising dinner in the 90s with Yogesh Gandhi, a distant relative of Mahatma Gandhi, and presented President Clinton with the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Award. Fukunaga claims he is the reincarnation of Christ and Buddha.
- Inri Cristo from Brazil claims to be the second Jesus reincarnated. He has been on television and debated others regarding their own claims of reincarnation. He still gives lectures on college campuses and has a smattering of followers in several countries.
- Alan John Miller is a former Jehovah’s Witness elder who claims to be the second coming of Christ and started the Divine Truth movement in Australia. Also a prophet of the 2012 Mayinism phenomenon, he prophesied catastrophic waves would turn the land he owns, 150 miles from the coast, into beachfront property by 2013. His partner, Mary Suzanne Luck, is said to be the second-coming of Mary Magdalene.