I thought to myself "surely, my wife misunderstood him." One morning last week, she came into our bedroom as I was getting out of the shower to tell me that a pudgy, middle-aged Hispanic man from Miami was on NBC's Today Show claiming to be Christ-incarnate, declaring all other Chrsitian faiths false, proclaiming that there is neither sin nor Satan, and vowing to bring an end to all man-made governments and religions.
But a quick perusal of his ministry website, along with a July 22 edition of the Miami Herald, assured me that Amy had heard correctly, which means only one thing: Satan is gunning for the Hispanic population in North America!
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, a 60-year-old native of Puerto Rico, was for a time an evangelical pastor. But 20 years ago, after founding the ministry Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace), his message began to become more nutty with each passing year, until finally reaching official nut job status in 2004, when he claimed that the spirit of Jesus Christ had been reincarnated in his body. In short, Miranda now refers to himself as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" with ever increasing frequency.
An examiniation of Miranda's message clearly vindicates Solomon's wise reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. Part ancient Nestorianism, part new thought metaphysics, part Prosperity Gospel, and part Liberation Theology, Miranda's "gospel" is tailor-made to a 21st century Latin-American immigrant culture.
There are a few differences, however, between Miranda and the Christ whom he presumes to be. First, having declared that sin and Satan are both myths, Miranda has conveniently forgotten that messages like those preached by his ilk are conceived by an enemy who disguises himself as a good guy (2 Cor. 11: 13-15), as well as the fact that those who say what Miranda says are devoid of truth, and lie to themselves as well as everyone else (1 John 1:8).
Second, in his quest to found "God's government on earth," Miranda is taking quite some time to accomplish this goal. The real milennium is established with one word from the real Jesus. (Rev. 19:20-21) With over 100,000 worshippers, Miranda has certainly established a following. But Scripture tells us that when He returns, the real Jesus will be able to take care of assuming control of all the Kingdoms of this world quite well on his own.
Third, The Herald noted that Miranda travels everywhere wearing a bullet-proof vest and surrounded by a tight security detail; a fact that in retrospect seems a bit absurd if his contention that sin is no more is really true. Again, the real Jesus needs no such protection, but instead comes back as a white-haired, fiery-eyed warrior wearing a robe drenched in His enemies' blood, with a tatoo up his thigh, to slaughter all who oppose Him. I read nothing in Revelation 19 that would suggest the neccesity of a security detail.
Fourth, Miranda claims that he never opens a Bible (hey, I might have found the problem here!) or prays, rhetorically asking "who am I going to pray to?" The real Jesus, by contrast, was filled with Scriptural wisdom (Luke 2:52, 4:4-13), and constantly prayed to the Father.
Perhaps, if Miranda would pick up the very Bible of which he claims to have no need, he might see a clear picture of himself there, and as a result, recognize his true identity:
Let no one deceive you in any way, for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God . . . .For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming." (2 Thess. 2:3-8)
Or maybe he would find himself here:
"See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will lead many astray." (The real Jesus, quoted in Matthew 24:4-5)
In short, although claiming to be the Messiah, Miranda is but one very insignificant antiChrist in a long line of antiChrists that Jesus warned us about. Worse yet, God in the Scriptures has condemned Him. As such, he is the most pitiful of the pitied.
These incidents should trigger pity in the hearts of genuine Christ-followers. Furthermore, they should call our attention to our evangelistic impetus. Hispanics will likely be the majority ethnic group in North America within the next half-century. As they go, so our culture will likely go. Men like Miranda should serve as a solemn reminder to the church that if we don't reach the lost with the Gospel, some accursed individual or group will reach them with an attractive alternative (Galatians 1:6-9)!
One day, in the not-too-distant future, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is going to come face-to-face with the One who has marked him out beforehand for damnation (Jude 4). In that moment of truth, how many of his growing number of followers will join Him in hell? The answer to that question may very well depend on our commitment to engage our immigrant friends with the message of the real Jesus.
Alexandra Alter, "Divine or Dangerous: He's got Disciples" The Miami Herald. July 22, 2006