Abstract When asked directly by his disciples “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Jesus replied “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” Here we examine a list of some of these false Messiahs, illustrated by reference to the idea that the real Jesus of Nazareth -the true Messiah- left a photographic image of himself on the Shroud of Turin.
Of the time of his return Jesus said “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” The world at this time, he is saying, will be steeped as it presently is in shallow materialism. When specifically asked by his disciples “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” he replied “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” This is one of the most boldly accurate and powerful prophecies ever made, for Jesus at this time -and for a long time afterwards- was an obscure figure. Not until Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire was there a glimmer of an indication that people from all over the globe would one day be attempting to deceive people into regarding them as the martyred Northern Israelite returned to earth.
Remember the story of Cinderella and the glass slipper? Anyone who failed to fit the lost slipper was not Cinderella. Assuming the authenticity of the TS, there is a correspondingly simple and practically foolproof way to distinguish the true and false Messiahs: faces are like fingerprints -no two faces are exactly the same- and only if the face of a person matches the face of the man in the TS is that person the real Jesus of Nazareth and the real Messiah (we leave aside the question whether Jesus of Nazareth really is the Messiah, but just as the forensic and historical evidence that the image on the TS really is a photograph of Jesus of Nazareth is overwhelming, so also is the prophetic evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah).
In the same way that anyone whose foot failed to fit the glass slipper is an imposter, anyone whose face fails to match the face (s) above is an imposter. What about reincarnation in the sense of the same soul in a different body? Acts 1: 10 – 11:
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Proof of Concept using Google’s image search algorithm:
Secondo Pia was the man who -in 1898 – first photographed the Shroud thereby discovering that the body-image is a negative.
With this evidently quite recognisable version of the TS-face as our criterion-face, we now go on to use Microsoft’s facial recognition algorithm to compare the faces of claimed Jesus-figures with the TS-face and to find all of them to be lacking the ‘foot’ to fit the ‘glass slipper’ of the true Messiah (text by Wikipedia).
Kondratiy Selivanov (c. 1730s – 1832), the founder and leader of the Skoptsy sect in the Russian Empire.
Ann Lee (1736 – 1784), the founder and leader of the Shakers. Lee’s followers referred to her as “Mother”, believing that she was the female incarnation of Christ on Earth.
John Nichols Thom (1799 – 1838), a Cornish tax rebel who claimed to be the “saviour of the world” and the reincarnation of Jesus Christ in 1834. He was killed by British soldiers at the Battle of Bossenden Wood, on May 31, 1838 in Kent, England.
Arnold Potter (1804 – 1872), Schismatic Latter Day Saint leader; he claimed the spirit of Jesus Christ entered into his body and he became “Potter Christ” Son of the living God. He died in an attempt to “ascend into heaven” by jumping off a cliff. His body was later retrieved and buried by his followers.
Jones Very (1813 – 1880), American essayist, poet, literary scholar, and Greek tutor at Harvard who befriended several prominent American Transcendentalists and suffered a nervous breakdown in 1837 after which he claimed to have become the Second Coming of Jesus.
Bahá’u’lláh (1817 – 1892), born Shiite, adopted Bábism later in 1844,\^\( \)he claimed to be the prophesied fulfillment and Promised One of three major religions. He founded the Bahá’í Faith in 1863.\^\( \)Followers of the Bahá’í Faith believe that the fulfillment of the prophecies of the second coming of Jesus, as well as the prophecies of the 5th Buddha Maitreya and many other religious prophecies, were begun by the Báb in 1844 and then by Bahá’u’lláh. They commonly compare the fulfillment of Christian prophecies to Jesus’ fulfillment of Jewish prophecies, where in both cases people were expecting the literal fulfillment of apocalyptic statements.
William W. Davies (1833 – 1906), leader of a Latter Day Saint schismatic group called the Kingdom of Heaven located in Walla Walla, Washington from 1867 to 1881. He taught his followers that he was the archangel Michael, who had previously lived as the biblical Adam, Abraham, and David. When his son Arthur was born on February 11, 1868, Davies declared that the infant was the reincarnated Jesus Christ. When Davies’s second son, David, was born in 1869, he was declared to be God the Father.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835 – 1908), claimed to be the awaited Mahdi as well as (Second Coming) and likeness of Jesus the promised Messiah at the end of time. He claimed to be Jesus in the metaphorical sense; in character. He founded the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1889, envisioning it to be the rejuvenation of Islam, and claimed to be commissioned by God for the reformation of mankind.
John Hugh Smyth-Pigott (1852 – 1927). Around 1890 Smyth-Pigott started leading meetings of the Agapenomite community and recruited 50 young female followers to supplement its aging population. He took Ruth Anne Preece as his second wife and she had three children named Glory, Power and Hallelujah. By 1902 his fame had spread as far as India, from where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad warned him of his false teachings and predicted his miserable end. The house which may have belonged to Smyth-Pigott in St John’s Wood was visited by John Betjeman in his film Metro-land. It is built in the neo-gothic style. It is currently the home of the television presenter Vanessa Feltz and was previously the home of Charles Saatchi. Smyth-Pigott died in 1927 and the sect gradually declined until the last member, sister Ruth, died in 1956. Her funeral in 1956 was the only time when outsiders were admitted to the chapel.
Haile Selassie I (1892-1975) did not claim to be Jesus and disapproved of claims that he was Jesus, but the Rastafari movement, which emerged in Jamaica during the 1930s, believes he is the Second Coming. He embodied this when he became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, perceived as confirmation of the return of the Messiah in the prophetic Book of Revelation 5:5 in the New Testament, who is also expected to return a second time to initiate the apocalyptic day of judgment. He is also called Jah Ras Tafari, and is often considered to be alive by Rastafari movement members.
Lou de Palingboer (1898- 1968), the founder and figurehead of a new religious movement in the Netherlands, who claimed to be “the resurrected body of Jesus Christ”.
Ernest Norman (1904 – 1971), an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Unarius Academy of Science in 1954, was allegedly Jesus in a past life and his earthly incarnation was as an archangel named Raphael. He claimed to be the reincarnation of other notable figures including Confucius, Mona Lisa, Benjamin Franklin, Socrates, Queen Elizabeth I, and Tsar Peter I the Great.
Krishna Venta (1911 – 1958), born Francis Herman Pencovic in San Francisco, founded the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love) Fountain of the World cult in Simi Valley, California in the late 1940s. In 1948 he stated that he was Christ, the new messiah and claimed to have led a convoy of rocket ships to Earth from the extinct planet Neophrates. He died on December 10, 1958 after being suicide bombed by two disgruntled former followers who accused Venta of mishandling cult funds and having been intimate with their wives.
Ahn Sahng-Hong (1918 – 1985), a South Korean who founded the World Mission Society Church of God in 1964, who recognize him as the Second Coming of Jesus. The World Mission Society Church of God teach that Zahng Gil-jah is “God the Mother”, who they explain is referred to in the Bible as the New Jerusalem Mother (Galatians 4:26), and that Ahn Sahng-Hong is God the Father.
Sun Myung Moon (1920 – 2012), believed by members of the Unification Church to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, fulfilling Jesus’ unfinished mission. Church members (“Unificationists”) consider Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, to be the True Parents of humankind as the restored Adam and Eve.
Jim Jones (1931 – 1978), founder of Peoples Temple, which started off as an offshoot of a mainstream Protestant sect before becoming a personality cult as time went on. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, Akhenaten, the Buddha, Vladimir Lenin, and Father Divine in the 1970s. He organized a mass murder suicide at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978. He shot himself after the murders were done.
Marshall Applewhite (1931 – 1997), an American who posted a Usenet message declaring, “I, Jesus- Son of God – acknowledge on this date of September 25/26, 1995: …” Applewhite and his Heaven’s Gate religious group committed mass suicide on March 26, 1997 to rendezvous with what they thought was a spaceship hiding behind Comet Hale-Bopp.
Yahweh ben Yahweh (1935 – 2007), born as Hulon Mitchell, Jr., a black nationalist and separatist who created the Nation of Yahweh in 1979 in Liberty City, Florida. His self-proclaimed name means “God, Son of God”. He could have only been deeming himself to be “son of God”, not God, but many of his followers clearly deem him to be God Incarnate. In 1992, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Laszlo Toth (1938 – 2012), Hungarian-born Australian who claimed he was Jesus Christ as he vandalized Michelangelo’s Pietà with a geologist’s hammer in 1972.
Wayne Bent (1941 – ), also known as Michael Travesser of the Lord Our Righteousness Church. He claims: “I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined.” He was convicted on December 15, 2008 of one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2008.
Ariffin Mohammed (1943 – 2016), also known as “Ayah Pin”, the founder of the banned Sky Kingdom in Malaysia in 1975. He claimed to have direct contact with the heavens and is believed by his followers to have been the incarnation of Jesus, as well as Shiva, and the Buddha, and Muhammad.
Mitsuo Matayoshi (1944 – ), a conservative Japanese politician, who in 1997 established the World Economic Community Party based on his conviction that he is God and Christ, renaming himself Iesu Matayoshi. According to his program he will do the Last Judgment as Christ but within the current political system.
José Luis de Jesús Miranda (1946 – 2013), Puerto Rican founder, leader and organizer of Growing in Grace based in Miami, Florida, who claimed that the resurrected Christ “integrated himself within me” in 2007.
Inri Cristo (1948-), a Brazilian who claims to be the second Jesus reincarnated in 1969, Brasília is considered by Inri Cristo and his disciples as the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse.
Thomas Harrison Provenzano (1949 – 2000), an American convicted murderer who was possibly mentally ill. He compared his execution with Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
Shoko Asahara (1955 -), founded the controversial Japanese religious group Aum Shinrikyo in 1984. He declared himself Christ, Japan’s only fully enlightened master and the Lamb of God. His purported mission was to take upon himself the sins of the world. He outlined a doomsday prophecy, which included a Third World War, and described a final conflict culminating in a nuclear Armageddon, borrowing the term from the Book of Revelation 16:16. Humanity would end, except for the elite few who joined Aum. The group gained international notoriety on March 20, 1995, when it carried out the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. He has been sentenced to death, and is awaiting execution.
David Koresh (1959 – 1993), born Vernon Wayne Howell, was the leader of a Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, though never directly claiming to be Jesus himself, proclaimed that he was the final prophet and “the Son of God, the Lamb” in 1983. In 1993, a raid by the U.S. BATF, and the subsequent siege by the FBI ended with Branch Davidian ranch burning to the ground. Koresh, 54 adults and 21 children were found dead after the fire extinguished itself.
Hogen Fukunaga (1945 – ) founded Ho No Hana Sanpogyo, often called the “foot reading cult”, in Japan in 1987 after an alleged spiritual event where he claimed to have realized he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha.
Marina Tsvigun (1960 -), or Maria Devi Christos, is the leader of the Great White Brotherhood. In 1990 she met Yuri Krivonogov, the Great White Brotherhood founder, who recognized Marina as a new messiah and later married her, assuming in the sect the role of John the Baptist, subordinate to Tsvigun.
Sergey Torop (1961 – ), a Russian who claims to be “reborn” as Vissarion, Jesus Christ returned, which makes him not “God” but the “word of God”. He founded the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia in 1990.
Apollo Quiboloy (1950 -) is the founder and leader of a Philippines-based Restorationist church, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. He has made claims that he is the “Appointed Son of God”.
Alan John Miller (1962 – ), more commonly known as A.J. Miller, a former Jehovah’s Witness elder and current leader of the Australia-based Divine Truth movement.\^\( \)Miller claims to be Jesus Christ reincarnated with others in the 20th century to spread messages that he calls the “Divine Truth”. He delivers these messages in seminars and various forms of media along with his current partner Mary Suzanne Luck, who identifies herself as the returned Mary Magdalene.
David Shayler (1965 -) is a former MI5 agent and whistleblower who, in the summer of 2007, proclaimed himself to be the Messiah. He has released a series of videos on YouTube claiming to be Jesus, although he has not built up any noticeable following since his claims.
Maurice Clemmons (1972 – 2009) an American felon responsible for the 2009 murder of four police officers in Washington state, referred to himself in May 2009 as Jesus.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez (1990 -). In November 2011, he fired nine shots with a Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic rifle at the White House in Washington D.C., believing himself to be Jesus Christ sent to kill U.S. President Barack Obama, whom he believed to be the antichrist.