He says he is Christ — and he lives here

He makes a remarkable claim: that he is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps equally remarkable, the number of people who believe him.

Now this man could be your neighbor and who says he’s Christ, has moved to Houston.

When members of Creciendo en Gracia had a worldwide meeting in Miami this weekend it had a Latin beat.

And when Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda entered the room with a security detail clearing his way, it could have been a rock star or a politician. His style is a bit of both.

“I am the second coming of Christ, that messiah that they’ve been waiting for,” said Dr. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda.

But he claims to be something much more.

A self-confessed heroin addict at 14, in jail at 21, Dr. Miranda said angels visited him, then Christ himself.

“He came and he disappeared in me. He integrates in me. Since then I’ve been teaching mysteries in the Bible,” Dr. Miranda said.

What is undeniably true is that people, he claims millions of them, believe him.

He began in a non-descript Miami warehouse. He now spreads his message by way of DVDs and owns his own 24-hours-a-day satellite channel.

He is Puerto Rican but has followers throughout Latin America and increasingly in the U.S. where he has learning centers in New York and now, alongside other non-denominational churches, he has one in Houston.

“He is God,” said one follower.

Followers hear there is no devil, no sin, that Jesus took it away.

“We are so tired of the lies of so-called Christians today because if they call you a sinner, we feel hurt that someone would call you a sinner because if Jesus died for sins it’s very contradictory that someone call you a sinner. Now I’m misrespecting Jesus,” said Dr. Miranda.

Most of all he seems to tell them they are worthy of being cared about.

“Some people tell me, you know, that it looks like the devil. If that is true I want to be with the devil because he make me so happy,” said Claudia Salazar, Creciendio en Gracia follower

One person termed Dr. Miranda’s message “seductive.”

“You’re getting something that you get similar to what you get over at Joel Osteen’s place except Joel would not claim to be Jesus Christ,” said theology expert Lynn Mitchell.

After watching the video, Mitchell made the interesting observation that it was joyous and the growth of Creciendo en Gracia is due at least in part to conventional Christian churches.

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“I think it represents a very heavy failure of Christian churches because Christian churches have not really conveyed their message for decades now. So people think of the Christian church as being a downer as always talking about people being sinners and so forth,” said Mitchell, U of H Resident Scholar Religious Studies.

The danger, Mitchell warns, is that with such devout followers this could become a cult, especially since Dr. Miranda also envisions a world government, with him at its head.

“They don’t understand it. They call it a cult. If I’m a cult, I’m the best one. I love to direct this beautiful cult,” said Dr. Miranda.

And he will be directing Creciendo in Gracia from Houston.

He says he was recognized everywhere in Miami.

So he will now run his worldwide organization from a home in the suburbs.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 29, 2006.
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