April 20, 1990 CHRISTIAN CULTS GROWTH + THREAT OF CHRISTIAN CULTS The rapid growth of Chri
April 20, 1990 CHRISTIAN CULTS
GROWTH & THREAT OF CHRISTIAN CULTS
The rapid growth of Christian cults combined with the very
real threat which they pose to Biblical Christianity
requires that the community of believers in Jesus Christ
become aware of them, form a Biblical response and observe
Jesus' call to evangelistic action (Matt. 28:19).
With the current rise and proliferation of cult
organizations, it is essential for Christians to "give
a reasonable answer" for their faith and hope (I Pet.
3:15). The Mormon church, perhaps the most dangerous
Christian cult, now numbers between 6.5 & 7.5 million, due in
large part to their army of missionaries. The Watchtower
Bible and Tract Society, commonly known as the Jehovah's
Witnesses, exceed 2 million worldwide. And the United
Pentecostal Church International, the largest 'Jesus
only' cult, have recently surpassed the 460,000 mark.
Along with the ever-increasing growth of Christian
cults is their relentless condemnation of Christian churches.
While the polite Mormon missionary will extend every possible
courtesy to you, he will never reveal what the Pearl of
Great Price, his own scripture, teaches with regard to
the Christian church. In the Pearl of Great Price God
supposedly condemns all the Christian Churches as wrong, all
the Christian creeds as abominations, all Christian pastors
as corrupt, and that all Christian pastors teach man-made
doctrines. Likewise, if you are Baptist, Methodist,
Presbyterian, Lutheran or Assemblies of God, The United
Pentecostal Church International, over a nation-wide
radio address declared that you are stuck in a "morass of
apostasy" and that the Jesus you serve is a "pseudo-Jesus"
(a false-Jesus). In a similar vein, the Jehovah's
Witnesses regard themselves as the only one true church.
IDENTIFYING CHRISTIAN CULTS
Within a religious frame of reference, the religious
definition of "cult" specifies that in order to
identify a "cult" you must 1) describe its belief system and
2) present a value judgment (see "Definition of Cult"
For instance, one such value judgment might be: if a group
of people claim to belong to a particular religion, but
reject the basic principles of that religion, clearly
they would represent a 'heresy' or 'perversion' of that
It is for this reason that the Mormon church is
regarded as a "Christian cult" or perversion of Christianity,
i.e., although they claim to be Christian, they repudiate
basic Christian truths.
It is also for this reason that the Hare Krishna are
not a Christian cult, but rather, a Hindu cult. And again,
Zen Buddhism a Buddhist, not a Christian cult. Both are
'non-Christian,' but for reasons other than claiming to
be Christian and denying basic Christian doctrines.
Unfortunately, many times people confuse "cult" with
the "occult." As demonstrated above, Christian cults claim
to be Christian, whereas the occult does not. Even
further, the occult participates in "forbidden" practices
listed in the Bible, e.g., voodoo, witchcraft, astrology,
sorcery, satanism, etc.
CULTIC BELIEF SYSTEMS
CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIAN: As presented above, a group must
first claim to be Christian before they can even be
suspected as being a Christian cult. Neither the First
Church of Satan, Zen Buddhism nor the United States Boy
Scouts claim to be Christian. Therefore, they are even
remotely suspected of being Christian cults. Usually,
the name of a specific group will indicate if it claims
to be Christian, e.g., Christian Science, Church of Jesus
Christ Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), United Pentecostal
Church International (UPCI), Unity School of Christianity,
Jehovah's 'Christian' Witnesses, The Way, the Worldwide
Church of God, etc.
DENY CENTRAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES:
GOD: Across the board, Christian cults always
deny the Biblical view of God, namely, one God in
three persons. Mormons teach that there are an
infinite number of gods who were once men and women.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe there is one big
god, Jehovah, and one small god, Jesus. The UPCI
insist that God is one person who puts on different masks or
titles. Christian Science and Unity School both teach that
God is an impersonal principle. The cults might do it in
different ways, but they will always reject the Biblical
view of God. By contrast, the Christian church has always
affirmed the Biblical view of God: one God in three persons.
In biblical theology the primacy of the belief in one and
only one God is undisputed (Is. 44:6). But the Bible also
recognizes three as God: the Father (I Pet.1:2), the Son
(John 1:1-18) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
This apparent contradiction, this mystery of the
Godhead,is reconciled in Deut. 6:4 - "Hear O Israel, the
LORD our God is one LORD." The Hebrew word ("Echod"), from
which the English 'one' is translated, is not a solitary one,
but rather, denotes a composite one. God's word uses "echod"
to describe one flesh in the marriage of two people (Gen.
2:24), one family, one tribe and one nation. Since the
Father prays to the son (Heb. 1:6-8), the son prays to the
Father (Mark 14:36) and the Son sends the Holy Spirit (John
16:7), clearly, the best English word to describe each of
these three eternal distinctions within the one God is
JESUS: It is easy to understand that since the Biblical view
of God is simply a fuller explanation of Jesus and His
relation to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, then it
necessarily follows that a cult's view of Jesus is always
deficient. In fact, this is exactly the case.
The Mormons teach that Jesus was a man who became
god, whereas the Bible teaches that Jesus was God
who became man (John 1:1-18). The Jehovah's Witnesses
believe that Jesus was God's first and greatest creation, but
God's word declares that He is true God (Phil. 2:6).
The UPCI demands that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the son
and Jesus is the Holy Spirit. They teach that Father, son
and Holy Spirit are merely "titles" or "offices" or
"masks" which Jesus puts on or exercises. God's word, in
direct opposition to the UPCI, declares Jesus prayed to His
father(another person) for glory which they shared(two
persons) before the world was (John 17:5).
Also, in the UPCI mind the
"son of God" denotes just the human flesh of Jesus
and is not God. In complete antithesis to the UPCI, God the
Father clearly prays to the Son and declares Him to be
MAN: Usually, but not always, a cult will also deny the
biblical view of man. For example, both Mormonism and the
Worldwide Church of God teach that you can become a God
yourself. God's word reveals where this doctrine originated,
in the lips of the serpent himself (Gen. 3:1-5).
SALVATION: In the cultic mind-set, salvation by "grace
through faith" alone is a foreign concept. It is always the
blood of Jesus plus something you must do to earn salvation.
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that you must also meet with
other Witnesses, sell magazines door to door and do good
works like Jesus did. Similarly, the UPCI demands
that you must also be baptized in a specific ritualistic
method and speak in tongues to have "full salvation." In
fact, the UPCI teaches in order for you to retain your
salvation you must keep "holiness standards;" e.g., dress
code. God's word, in no uncertain terms, testifies
that salvation is by one simple method "grace through
faith ... Not of works, lest any man should boast"
(Eph. 2:8-9). In much stronger terms Paul repudiates anyone
who tries to add anything to the blood of Jesus and put us
under the law (Gal.3).
EXTRA-BIBLICAL REVELATION WRITTEN
In virtually every instance that we find a Christian
cult, there is always found an extra-biblical revelation -
another supposed revelation from God separate from the
bible. Usually, but not always, this extra-biblical
revelation is in the form of another book. The Mormons have
three extra-biblical revelations;
The Book of Mormon,the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines &
Christian Science has Science & Health with a Key to the
The Unification Church has developed the Divine Principle.
Sometimes, instead of another book besides the bible,
they have developed only one view or interpretation of
the bible which is lifted up so high and unchallengeable,
that it itself becomes equal in
authority to God's word.
In the Way International, any of Victor Paul Wierwille's
interpretations are considered sacred and unapproachable.
TRACED TO ONE MANS INTERPRETATION
Another indicator that a cult might be present is that
almost always a cult can be traced to one mans
interpretation of God's word. Mormonism can be traced
back to Joseph Smith, Unity School to Charles Fillmore and
Christian Science to Mary Baker Edy.
The Way International was founded by Victor Paul Wierwille,
whereas Rev. Syung Myung Moon began the Unification Church.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are dependent upon Charles Taze
Russell's view in the modern era and Arius, the ancient
heretic, in the pre-modern era. The views of the UPCI are
traceable to Frank Ewart in the modern era and the heretic
Sabellius in the ancient world.
Let it be clear that I believe that every cultist has the
inalienable right, given by God, to practice his religion
has he sees fit - I do not challenge that. But when he
claims that he is practicing Christianity, it is time for
the Christian church to respond with a loving answer, "what
you have is certainly yours, but it is not Christianity."
And then, in a cool, calm manner demonstrate why it is not
While it is incumbent upon the believers in Jesus Christ's
to respond to the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the
UPCI, etc., we must remember the attitude with which we
must give a reasonable answer, namely, a meek and
reveren tone (I Pet. 3:15).
A meek spirit is one which has power but does not abuse it.
Have reverence and respect for the cult member (of course
this does not mean you must respect beliefs). How would you
feel if someone ridiculed your religion? Instead of
building invisible walls by seeking mere victory through
arguments, we must learn to edify people and warn them of
the slight of men - all the time speaking the truth in love
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank