April 20, 1990 CHRISTIAN CULTS GROWTH + THREAT OF CHRISTIAN CULTS The rapid growth of Chri

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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" critique sheet). 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 religion. 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, just 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 person." 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 God.(Heb. 1:1-12) 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 & Covenants. Christian Science has Science & Health with a Key to the Scriptures. 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. VALUE JUDGMENT 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 Christianity. CHRISTIAN RESPONSE 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 (Eph. 4:11-15)

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