By: Marguerite Kendall Thought this might be interesting to some. Cornerstone Ministries P

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

By: Marguerite Kendall Thought this might be interesting to some. Cornerstone Ministries P.O. Box 2183 Poquoson, Va 23662-0183 (804) 868-0793 CHRISTIAN OR CULT? Copyright 1993 by Cornerstone Ministries. Permission Granted Upon Notification To Reproduce For Non-commercial Purposes. INTRODUCTION Food package labels identify contents and allow shoppers to make sound decisions. Wouldn t it be nice if religions had such labels? Unfortunately, they do not, and you can't be sure that the well-dressed missionary at your door is being honest about his beliefs. This booklet is intended as a contents label for two cults (Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses), and two religions (Freemasonry and New Age). Many join such groups wrongly believing them to be Christian, or at least Biblical; Snow White ate the apple only because she did not know its true nature. This booklet is written from the perspective that the Bible is the authoritative word of God. Therefore, if any group's stated beliefs, as derived from their own literature, are not consistent with the clear doctrines of the Bible, then they did not derive their authority from God. Such a departure from Biblical truth is sufficient to brand them as cults or false religions. In discussing the above groups, we have addressed their history, basic theological beliefs and specific teachings. Comments are included to note Scriptural deviations. Bible quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV). This booklet is not written to attack, ridicule or insult; rather, it shows how the beliefs of selected religious groups conflict with Biblical Christianity. The facts will speak for themselves, and the reader can form his own conclusions from those facts. RELIGIONS, CULTS, CHURCHES AND BIBLES Some common terms should be defined before we begin. Webster defines religion as belief in a divine or super human power... to be obeyed and worshipped as the Creator...and expressing this belief in conduct and ritual. A cult is defined as any group that embraces, teaches or practices religious doctrine contrary to the accepted and established truth of Biblical Christianity . A cult usually meets the definition of a religion; however, they have other characteristics: 1) they tend to be closed minded and intolerant of any other belief ( I am right, you are wrong!); 2) they refer to a different bible and a different Jesus for their doctrine and authority; 3) their leadership restricts independent thought and has final say on salvation; 4) they do not like Christians and redefine Christian symbols (e.g., cross, Bible, etc) to comply with their own doctrine. The term church is often misunderstood, and many wonder why there are so many of them (Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.) when there is only one God. It certainly is true that Christian denominations differ, though usually on the means of worship or in areas where the Bible is vague; however, they have almost total agreement on the major doctrines of the Bible. More importantly, it must be understood that the Biblical Christian Church is the Body of Christ, which is made up of those who have acknowledged that they are sinners and have placed their total trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. For God does not see Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, or atheists; he sees only saved Christians or lost sinners. So there is really only one Church, regardless of where its members actually worship. Many also wonder why there are so many versions of the Bible available. Well, this is because the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, languages not widely taught in our schools. Translating the Scriptures into English is a complex task, given the different structures and word forms of the languages involved; thus, each version may use different words in the translation process. The King James Bible, written in 1611, is the most popular English version, and formed the basis for more modern versions such as the Revised, the American Standard, Revised Standard, the New American Standard and the New King James. The NIV used in this booklet is a recent translation based on the best of the Hebrew and Greek texts available, and is in doctrinal agreement with other versions. Catholics use the Douay or the Jerusalem Bibles, which contain more books than do other English translations. Protestants do not recognize these additional books as Scripture due to their historical, geographical and doctrinal inaccuracies. A good example of why bibles vary can be seen in the King James translation of the Greek word baptidzo . Its Greek meaning is immerse , but the translators did not wish to anger those who did not accept total immersion, so they used the Greek word as an English one. Thus, people of various beliefs could baptize in whatever way they felt was appropriate. Was this an accurate translation of the Scriptures? No. Was it a major alteration? Not really. One often hears the questions: Doesn't the Bible contradict itself? Isn't it filled with errors? Well, no. The Christian believes that the Bible is both inspired and inerrant; that is, the writers were guided in what they wrote by the Spirit of God, and that the original texts were devoid of error. With the many translations available, it is safe to say that minor errors were introduced during translation or outright additions by copyists; however, comparison of modern translations with the earliest Scripture manuscripts show us that few errors exist. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls contained a complete copy of the book of Isaiah dating from at least 150BC. When compared with today's Bible, only a few differences in wording were encountered, and no differences with respect to doctrine were found. As well, facts of history and geography as stated in the Bible have been backed up by archaeological research. Based on the facts, the Bible makes a valid claim to be the authoritative word of God. CHRISTIANITY We use the phrase Biblical Christianity because the Bible clearly defines it, and its definition leaves no room for inclusion of, or partnership with, other religions. As the authoritative word of God, the Bible is the authority for defining Christianity. This is critical, for Christianity is not what the Christian, individually or collectively, thinks it is; it is what the Bible says it is. In this day of cults and false religions, it becomes dangerous to blindly accept someone else's interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must read and study it ourselves, trusting in God to lead us to the truth. Those who do so will find that the Bible has this to say about God, Jesus and salvation: God is a Spirit, who, through Jesus Christ, created the universe and all it contains. He is the only God; none came before Him and none will come after Him (Isaiah 43:10-11). God is tripersonal in nature and involves the distinctions of the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit; these three are co-equal, co-eternal and of the same substance; each part of the one God. He is a loving, personal God who cares about all living things, and understands our innermost thoughts and feelings. We humans live under condemnation by our inherently sinful nature. If we do nothing, the result is eternal punishment in hell. Some find this hard to accept and ask how a loving God could condemn people to hell. The answer, quite simply, is that it is not God who does the condemning; rather, we condemn ourselves by rejecting His Word. For God has given us the way out in the Person of Jesus Christ (God the Son), who came to earth as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. One accepts this way out by believing in Jesus and asking Him into his or her heart; He will do the rest. Though it seems an easy step, many are reluctant to take it, as it means giving up a "lifestyle" that is based on the pleasures of this world. Unfortunately, such "lifestyles" lead only to death and eternal punishment, while the lifestyle that God offers us leads to eternal life. Have you ever seen the phrase John 3:16 on TV sports events? Have you ever wondered what it has to do with you? It is the summation of God s commitment to each of us: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed... Notice that this commitment is one of love, not hatred or condemnation. Jesus came to save, and He made the sacrifice for you and me so that our sins would not separate us from God. Finally, one may ask: "Why was this booklet written? Who are you to attack anyone's beliefs? After all, isn't the Mason honestly concerned with community service, the Mormon with family matters? Doesn't the Bible tell us to "judge not"?" Yes, all this is true. But salvation is not a matter of earthly things; it is a matter of our relationship with God. When cults and false religions lead people away from God and His truth, the Christian must speak out. That is the reason for this booklet. ------------------------------------------------------- THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS INTRODUCTION Better known as Mormons, this cult successfully masquerades as a Christian sect while holding beliefs far removed from Christianity. Mormons are seen as clean-cut, well-educated, family-oriented citizens, though a bit strange in their religious outlook. This wholesome image has been carefully developed by the Mormon leadership and serves to hide the sordid side of their history and theological development from the general public and from most Mormons. HISTORY The Mormon church was founded in 1830 by their Prophet, Joseph Smith, who claimed to have been told by an angel to recover golden plates describing the experiences of two peoples who came to the Americas from the Middle East in 2250BC and 600BC. From these plates came the Book of Mormon (their bible ). As Prophet, Smith claimed to speak with Divine authority, though what he said often conflicted with his prior statements or actions. The Mormons did not live well with their neighbors and were forced to move several times, the last coming after the Prophet s murder by a mob in 1844. Brigham Young assumed the mantle of Prophet and led most Mormons west to the great Salt Lake, where the cult settled. Mormons still did not take kindly to outsiders; 130 unarmed immigrants were massacred in 1857 under orders from Young. Today, Utah is the closest thing America has to a theocracy, with the church having great influence in the state. STRUCTURE The Mormon church is directed by its General Authorities, which is headed by the First Presidency, consisting of the latest Prophet and two counselors. The Prophet is thought to be in direct communication with God, and his formal statements are treated as coming from The Man Himself. Not surprisingly, members are taught to obey church direction, and are assured that the leadership has already done their thinking for them. The church is administratively divided into territories made up of wards and stakes . Each ward is presided over by a bishop, and the wards consolidated into stakes, each controlled by a Stake President. Most males over the age of twelve belong to one of two priesthoods (Aaronic or Melchizedek). The Mormon missionary program is legendary, with young people 19-21 years old spending two years in mission work, mostly at their family s expense. Almost everyone has a place in the church, which fosters a strong sense of belonging. BELIEFS Though Mormons pride themselves on education, they blindly accept some of the strangest beliefs that ever came from the dark side of the human brain (i.e., Smith s). Mormonism teaches that every person born on earth was first born in heaven of spirit parents. Jesus (Jehovah) was the first of these spirit children, and is therefore our spiritual brother. His father (Elohim) called a council to inform us of his plan to send us to earth to be tested and eventually earn the right to become gods ourselves. Elohim recognized a savior would be necessary for Earth, so both Jesus and his brother Lucifer presented a plan of salvation. Jesus was accepted, and Lucifer, enraged, rebelled and was subsequently thrown out of heaven with one-third of the spirit children who supported him. They became Satan and his demons. Those who fought against him became the white race; those who were neutral became the black race. Adam (also called Michael the Archangel) and Eve were chosen to become mankind s parents on this earth, which was created by Jesus under Elohim s direction. Their descendents (we all descended from Adam and Eve) provided the mortal bodies for the heavenly spirit children. We spirit children bear no memory of our preexistence, and we are on this earth to prove ourselves worthy for godhood. If we prove worthy, we (man and wife/wives) will get our own planet to populate, and we will be gods. About 2000 years ago, Jesus came to Earth to implement his plan. After his crucifixion, He also appeared in the flesh to spread the gospel to the Hebrews who had earlier migrated to the Americas. Unfortunately, the church he established in both places fell away, and was only reinstated when Joseph Smith appeared on the scene to restore the gospel. Thus, the Mormon church is now the only true church and all others are abominations , and teach false doctrine. To the Mormon, the above is factual. Questions, such as why Jesus would allow the church He created to be overcome by Satan, are not pursued by good Saints. Mormons accept four books as Scripture: The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price and the Bible. The first three were written by Smith, who also wrote an inspired bible which proved to be such an embarrassment that it was suppressed by the church. Though called scripture , the Bible is only accepted as far as it is correctly translated . Few Mormons can identify which parts are correctly translated , but it is clear that parts conflicting with Mormon theology fall under that category. Also considered Scripture are the words of the current Prophet, who speaks with God s authority; thus, he may create doctrine, even if it contradicts earlier Prophets or the Bible itself. TEACHINGS Mormon teachings range from the ridiculous to the profound, with Smith teaching most of the former. The church spends much time and effort hiding or denying former practices which are now embarrassments. Beliefs include: * God was once a man of flesh and bones, who by his personal improvement became a god with an exalted body. Brigham Young taught that Adam was God, and therefore Jesus physical father, but this teaching was later dropped by the church. (Note: Jesus said that God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and God denies being a man (Hosea 11:9). The church denies Young s Adam-God teaching while still maintaining his Prophet status. The Bible says a prophet from God will be correct all the time (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). If Young was wrong about Adam-God, what does that make him?) * The Trinity is the first Christian heresy. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons and separate gods. (Note: Mormons give common Christian terms, such as trinity , entirely different meanings. The Trinity concept is well founded in the Bible; see John 1:1 for the clear link between Jesus and God. See below discussion on Book of Mormon teachings which do not support current church doctrine on this subject.) * Jesus and Lucifer were spirit brothers. In his earthly form, Jesus was the result of sexual union between a physical God and Mary. Jesus later had at least three wives. (Note: Needless to say, none of this is Biblical.) * Jehovah (Jesus) and Elohim (God) are separate personages. (Note: The Bible says both names to refer to the one God. Jehovah (or Yahweh) is God s true name , and He identifies Himself as such to Moses in Exodus 3:14. Elohim is a generic name for any god, but under specific circumstances refers only to God himself (Elohim is used in the Creation story (Genesis ch 1)). Sometimes both names are used together (i.e., Jehovah Elohim) to refer to God.) * The Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods give Mormons the authority to act for the Lord and to do his work on the earth. The Aaronic priesthood was conferred by John the Baptist, and the Melchizedek restored by Peter, James and John. (Note: As the authority to spread the gospel, the priesthood is essential to Mormonism. This is critical, because there is no Biblical foundation for modern usage of either priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood was limited to descendents of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, and was changed, or done away with, by Jesus' sacrifice (Hebrews 7:12). As to the Melchizedek, Hebrews 5:6 and 7:24 say that Jesus holds that priesthood, and that it is permanent, and not transferable. Thus, God's revelation denies this Mormon practice. Worse, the Mormon "priesthood" conceals the real meaning of Jesus' sacrifice. Matthew 27:51 tells us that the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from the top to the bottom when Christ died. This veil had stood for the separating wall between God and man that was bridged but once a year by the high priest when he offered the sacrifice of atonement for the people. The meaning of the torn veil is clear: Christ's death was the ultimate sacrifice, and it opened the way permanently for all who would come to God by Him. With His sacrifice, the priesthood was fulfilled, it's purpose was done, finished, completed. Mankind no longer needed an earthly "priest" to intercede with God, for he has Jesus Christ as his mediator, and it is that great fact that the Mormonism tries to hide from its members.) * There are three heavens, with the top having three levels, the highest of which is for Mormons who have reached godhood. The other heavens are for less-worthy Mormons and men of good will . Hell, as a place of everlasting torment, has no place in Mormon theology. (Note: Nowhere does the Bible speak of a hierarchy of heavens. Hell, as an eternal place of torment, is clearly described, such as in the the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19. Cults downplay or deny the existence of hell, for their own reasons.) * While Christ made salvation open to all, exaltation (or godhood) is available only through the Mormon church by: accepting the gospel, having the Melchizedek Priesthood, receiving the endowment (describes how godhood is obtained), and being married in the temple (thus making it eternal). (Note: Exaltation once required having multiple wives (polygamy); however, the church officially abolished this practice in 1890 under pressure from the Federal Government. Smith s revelation about this "requirement" was not retracted and heavenly polygamy is still taught. The Bible says there is no marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:30) and faith in Jesus is the only requirement for eternal life.) * After death, the worthy Mormon cannot merely walk into God s presence. He must know the secret signs, passwords and handshakes that the angels guarding heaven s gates will demand of him. These are learned during the temple endowment ceremony. (Note: Though not Biblical, this has its roots in another religion: Freemasonry. The endowment ceremony was instituted two months after Smith became a Master Mason and is clearly patterned after the first three Masonic degrees. Also borrowed was the magic underwear , similar to the Mason s lambskin apron, which Mormons wear for spiritual protection.) * A Mormon cannot enter a temple unless he is approved by local church leadership and issued a temple recommend . To get the recommend, one must: tithe 10%, live a moral life, avoid certain food, drink and tobacco, be free of drugs and legal entanglements, support the dictates of the General Authorities and fully accept the teachings of the church. Mormons without the recommend worship in stake houses. (Note: Restricting temple admission serves to limit promulgation of Mormonism s true beliefs to those who really want to belong to the church. Merely having literature that questions Mormon theology is enough to strip a Mormon of his recommend.) * God levied the curse of a black skin on those who did not strive valiantly against Lucifer in the spirit world. Thus, blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood until 1978, when another revelation was received. (Note: As with polygamy, this revelation coincided with government pressure and is a second example of the church s willingness to sacrifice their god s decrees for political and economic survival.) * The Book of Mormon (BOM) mainly describes a group of Jews who came to the Americas from Jerusalem around 600BC. They split into two groups, the Nephites and Lamanites, with the latter being given a darker skin as a sign of God s displeasure. Jesus visited the Nephites after His crucifixion to preach the gospel. In the 7th century, the Lamanites (ancestors of the American Indian) destroyed the Nephites, with the last Nephite hiding the plates containing the BOM in upstate New York. (Note: Consider these facts about about the BOM: * Though described as the unalterable word of God, it has been subject to almost 4000 changes since 1830. Many of these were to correct the ungrammatical wording used by Smith (identified as the book s author ), but others were to add doctrine or change embarrassing errors. Not yet corrected by Mormon scribes is the prediction that Jesus will be born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:9). The church regularly changes history by editing historical and doctrinal works to reflect current practices. * Over 25,000 words are quoted directly from the King James Bible, which is odd, as the BOM was supposedly compiled by the 7th century AD and the King James Bible written almost 1000 years later. In academic circles, this is called plagiarism. Mormons have fantastic explanations about this coincidence; plagiarism, of course, is not one of them. * It is genetically impossible for the Lamanites to be related to the American Indian as the BOM states. Had the Lamanites existed (which they did not), they would have been of Semitic makeup; Indians are Mongoloid in genetic extraction. One can change his hair color, but not his genes. Mormons used to believe that Indians converting to Mormonism would be rewarded by their skin turning white. * No trace of the great civilizations described in the book have ever been found by non-Mormon archaeologists. The Smithsonian Institution is on record as seeing no connection between the BOM and New World archaeology. * It is a total fabrication by an imaginative Joseph Smith, and not the only one. Smith also published the Book of Abraham, supposedly translated from an Egyptian papyrus containing a handwritten account by the prophet Abraham. This papyrus later came to light and turned out to be a common Egyptian funeral document, having no relationship to the contents described by Smith. Smith felt he could get away with such fictional translations because Egyptian writing was thought to be undecipherable in his day. Despite knowing the truth, the church cannot repudiate the Book of Abraham without repudiating Smith. * The BOM contains few of the doctrines used by the church today, and is at odds with some of their most important ones. For example, polygamy was once necessary for salvation, but the BOM states that each man shall have but one wife in Jacob 2:26-28. The Trinity is taught in 2 Nephi 31:21 and Alma 11:44; one God is taught in Alma 11:25-29; God is described as spirit in Alma 18:24-28. * The Hebrews coming to the American continent supposedly came to an uninhabited land (2 Nephi 1:9- 11). When they arrived, there were already present domesticated animals, such as cows, horses and oxen (which is a neutered bull). So how did the bull become an oxen?) [part 7 missing?] ------------------------------------------------------- JEHOVAH S WITNESSES AND THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY INTRODUCTION Jehovah s Witnesses (JW) have a reserved, if faintly fanatic image. One generally sees Witnesses only at the front door or when their religious views make the news. After talking to them, many feel that once is enough, as they can often leave you disturbed and unsure of your own beliefs. A half truth is worse than a lie, and the Witnesses have perfected the use of half truths to gain and keep converts. JW literature is full of facts that seem to deny the prime tenets of Christianity, and they can flip through the Bible to show verses that prove those facts (but not those that disagree with their beliefs). This is no accident: JW literature is written to mislead, and these visitors are highly trained to present their beliefs and make you doubt yours. They are also very motivated, as their salvation depends upon door-to-door preaching and gaining converts. Sadly, the individual JW is honestly trying to do what he is told God wants him to do, not realizing that he is living a lie. HISTORY Jehovah s Witnesses were founded by Charles T. Russell in 1879 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Russell began with the premise that Christianity had been perverted, and wrote a series of books which, in his mind, replaced the Bible. Russell supported his teachings by redefining the meanings of Greek and Hebrew terms in the Scripture, while having no training in (or knowledge of) either language. Even today, many JW s can discuss Greek terminology, not knowing that they are parroting the Society s misinterpretations. After Russell s death, the leadership retained the centralized control of JW affairs which mark the group as a cult today. Succeeding Presidents consolidated this control into a committee, which speaks with authority on all doctrinal and disciplinary matters. Watchtower leaders have a history of making prophesies that do not come true, though lately their predictions have not been dated, thus saving themselves further embarrassment. Among their prophesies were: - Jesus Christ appeared invisibly in 1874 (later changed to 1914.) - Armageddon (the end of the world) would occur in 1914. - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be earthly resurrected in 1925. Beth Sarim mansion built in 1930 in San Diego for the soon-to-be resurrected prophets; however, they never appeared and Rutherford lived there until his death. - Armageddon likely to occur in 1975. - Armageddon to occur soon . The Old Testament says that a prophet of God is correct 100% of the time. These failures indicate that they were not spoken by the power of God; thus, the leadership does not speak with authority. Unfortunately, a membership trained in blind obedience does not question its leaders errors. STRUCTURE The JW organization is closely run by its leadership in Brooklyn, NY. This control extends down to the local congregations, where officials are appointed by the Brooklyn office, vice being locally elected. As Jesus own organization, the Witness leadership acts as His faithful and discreet slave in establishing, and enforcing adherence to, doctrine. This leadership, not the Bible, is the final authority for all theological matters. Witnesses march in lock-step conformity and boast of their total obedience to the Society s rule. They avoid independent thinking, refuse non-Witness religious material, never criticize JW leaders and do not listen to criticism of JW beliefs and practices. Education beyond high school is discouraged: if Jehovah will soon destroy the world, what education is necessary? As a result of this rigid control, JW s are very clannish and do not have close contact with non-Witnesses. The JW who disobeys church doctrine quickly finds himself hauled before a judicial committee of elders and, if he doesn t admit his sin , disfellowshiped , or banned from the Kingdom Hall and shunned by former friends and relatives. BELIEFS JW s believe that the Battle of Armageddon, in which Jehovah will destroy all non-Witnesses, is almost upon us. They fear that they could be destroyed as well, unless they actively engage in door-to-door preaching. This fear for his own salvation is why an individual JW can be so diligent in his mission program. The JW s further believe that Jesus returned to earth in spiritual form in 1914 and rules as King on earth through the Society. Thus, salvation outside the Watchtower is impossible, and depends on full obedience to the Watchtower Society and vigorous participation in its works programs. JW s also believe that heavenly salvation is no longer possible. Instead, believers will live in an earthly paradise after Armageddon. The JW s support their arguments with their own version of the Bible, the New World Translation, which alters the Scriptures to reflect JW beliefs, as opposed to accurately translating them to reflect the truth. TEACHINGS Their beliefs are based on the following Watchtower teachings: * There is one solitary being from all eternity, Jehovah God, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe. (Note: Except for the word solitary , which JW's use to deny the Trinity, this is a fair description of the God of the Bible, who in some translations is referred to as Jehovah . Few object to this name, which is one of the many spellings of the Hebrew Yahweh (the divine name of God). See Isaiah, chapters 43-45, for a description of the God of the Bible.) * True believers must call Him by the name Jehovah; He does not hear those calling Him by any other name. (Note: The Bible does not support that view. Indeed, Jesus taught us to pray to Father .) * Jehovah s first creation was Jesus, also known as Michael the archangel. On earth, Jesus was a manifestation of Michael in human form. (Note: The Bible is clear on who Jesus was: In the beginning was the Word (i.e., Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . (John 1:1) The Witnesses claim that this verse should define Jesus as a God ; however, the Greek grammar is clear about the above quote being the proper translation. Also, the Bible is very clear that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10- 11), so this JW explanation cannot be valid. Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible, but never is he identified as Jesus. Hebrews chapter 1 notes Jesus superiority to the angels, making the Witness claim pretty shaky.) * Following his crucifixion, Jesus was resurrected as a spiritual being. (Note: Again the Bible disagrees. Luke 24:39 quotes Jesus pointing out his physical body; indeed, He even eats with the disciples. Throughout the Bible, "resurrection" always pertains to the physical body, never the spiritual.) * The Holy Spirit is God s active force , not a person. (Note: the Bible reveals the Holy Spirit as having personal traits such as speaking (Acts 13:2), bearing witness (John 15:26), saying what it hears (John 16:13) and not liking being lied to (Acts 5:3). Though the body is described as a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), JW s view those having the Spirit as being demon-possessed.) * The Trinity concept is Satan spawned. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible. (Note: The JW s redefined God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to support this claim. True, trinity isn t in the Bible; however, neither is omnipresent , which most would agree describes an attribute of God. The Trinity concept dates from the third century AD and allows us to understand God as He has revealed Himself through the Scriptures. It is in total harmony with the biblical revelation of God, Jesus and the Spirit. A good supporting verse of the Trinity is Genesis 19:24, where God (on earth) calls down burning sulfur from God (in heaven.)) * Except for a few believers, true Christianity vanished from the earth after the death of the Apostles, with Satan taking ecclesiastical authority. It was not restored until Russell set up the Watchtower organization. When Christ returned in 1914, He began His rule as King on earth through the Watchtower Society. (Note: Why Jesus allowed the church He established to be subverted by Satan is not explained by the JW leadership, but it does fly in the face of reason. Only the Witnesses saw Jesus return, despite His statement that His return would be seen by all (Matthew 24:27). The Bible states that Jesus left the earth in physical form and will return in the same way (Acts 1:11). Of interest, both the JW s and the Mormons teach that Christ s church fell away and was later restored by a man, though neither is pleased about the coincidence.) * Jehovah has a precise timetable for all past and future events which has been revealed through the Watchtower Society. (Note: Using this timetable, the Society has promulgated a number of specific end-times prophecies, all of which have failed. Jesus said no man would know when the end of times would occur (Matthew 24:36). God alone knows that date; the Christian only knows that each day brings it one day closer. The Witness leadership taught that those living in 1914 would see this event. As most of these are rather old now, if the world doesn't end shortly, yet another Witness prophecy will be revealed as false.) * Only 144,000 individuals will go to heaven, and this number was reached by the year 1935. All other Witnesses will live on earth in a Garden of Eden paradise after God destroys everyone else on the planet. Those not of the 144,000 may not partake of the annual Lord s Supper. (Note: The JW leadership determined the identity of these 144,000, and one can only guess at the criteria used. The number itself is taken out of context from the 7th and 14th chapters of of Revelations. Of interest, Revelations 14:4 says that these 144,000 are virgins, making it unlikely that the JW s interpretation is correct. The Bible does not limit the number of people who may enter heaven, and denying believers communion directly contradicts Jesus instructions (Matthew 26:27, John 6:53).) * Accepting a blood transfusion is a serious sin as it constitutes eating blood , which is prohibited by the Bible. JW's, and their children, must die rather than accept a transfusion. (Note: This false interpretation of Leviticus 7:26 was implemented in 1944. It takes a great stretch of the imagination to equate a transfusion with the Old Testament prohibition. Since Jesus fulfilled the Law, that prohibition no longer even applies. Of note, from 1967-80, organ transplants were prohibited by the JW leadership, as were vaccinations from 1931-1952. Why Jehovah changed His mind in these cases is not clear.) * Celebrating birthdays and national/religious holidays is forbidden. As Jehovah s ambassadors, swearing allegiance to any nation or joining the armed forces is blasphemy. (Note: There is no Biblical basis for these prohibitions. Many JW practices are designed to force the Witnesses to be different. Imagine the impact on a child who cannot celebrate birthdays in school. Jesus noted the place earthly government has ( Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar s ) and Romans 13:1-7 is a masterly discussion of government and the Christian s responsibility to it.) * The human soul cannot be separated from the body; upon death, the soul remains with the body awaiting judgement. Thus, the dead have no conscious existence until their bodily resurrection, when they either join the earthly paradise or are totally destroyed. There is no hell, or place of eternal punishment. (Note: See Luke 12:4-5 description of life after death. See also Matthew 10:28, where Jesus warns of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell . The Bible defines death as separation , either from the body or from God, and never as destruction as believed by the JW s. From the first book of the New Testament (Matthew 13:41, 13:49, etc.), a place of eternal torment for nonbelievers is clearly indicated.) * Wearing the cross is prohibited as a pagan custom. Jesus was crucified on an upright pole without a crossbeam. (Note: Jesus warned his followers to be ready to carry their own cross, which is why many people wear the cross. As well, the cross is worn to indicate Christ s victory over death. In some places, the Bible speaks of Jesus being crucified on a tree , which is where the idea of a stake comes from. However, Thomas said he wanted to see the marks of the nails (plural) in Jesus hands (John 20:25). Why would more than one nail have been needed if the Witnesses are correct? Also, Matthew 27:37 speaks of a written charge placed over Jesus' head on the cross. This would not be practical if his hands were nailed to a stake as the Witnesses claim.) CONCLUSION If Jesus was indeed directing the Watchtower organization, the Witnesses would fully understand and preach the gospel of salvation and hope that is found in the Bible. Instead, they preach a legalistic doctrine that totally ignores the sacrifice He made for us. Jesus spoke of the JW leadership: You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. " (Matthew 15:7-9) "you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. (Luke 11:46) The Witnesses are the most dangerous of the cults to those who do not understand the Scriptures, as they present a cohesive theology seemingly proven by the Bible. Review their material closely and you will find the half-truths upon which it is based and begin to see just how these half-truths conceal a body in which conformity and obedience far outweigh the love of God. The individual JW can never be sure he is saved, but must remain on the salvation-by-works treadmill established by the Watchtower. They continually seek God s approval, but deny the Scriptures that state how this approval is achieved. They are blind followers of blind leaders, victims of victims, and people who have cut themselves off from the saving grace of Jesus. QUESTIONS FOR JEHOVAH S WITNESSES: * What must you do to be saved? Can you disobey your leadership? * How does Jesus provide leadership to your Brooklyn office?. * Will the world be destroyed by the year 2000? Did the Society predict Armageddon would occur in 1975? * Who translated the NWT? What language training did they have? ------------------------------------------------------ ANCIENT ORDER OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS (FREEMASONRY) INTRODUCTION Presenting itself as a fraternal brotherhood of believers in God, Freemasonry is the world's most successful secret society. Mason Albert G. Mackey defines it: All (Masons) unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder from the Lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven. (Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry) Beyond definition, Masonry means different things to different people; therefore, this chapter focuses on the question "Can a Christian support Masonry?" In finding the answer, one should always keep two points in mind: 1) What any Mason believes should not be confused with what Masonry teaches. Masonic rituals and symbols are open to interpretation; thus, Christian Masons may choose to see them in light of their own beliefs, vice what they actually teach. 2) There is much misinformation on Masonry, from both Masons and their opponents. Objective review of the facts shows that Masonry denies Biblical beliefs. Purporting to convey a mystery, or hidden knowledge , it teaches concepts which are alien to Christianity, and is very much symbolic of the "broad path that leads to destruction." The Mason searching for Masonic "light" must eventually choose between the God of the Bible and the god of Masonry (a universal god to whom all men pray, regardless of faith). Undoubtedly, many Masons will disagree with this; however, Masonic authorities bemoan of how little Masons know of the true teachings of their Craft. The individual Mason may be unaware of the religious nature of Masonry, unaware of the teachings of its higher degrees, and unaware of its true inner meaning and intent. HISTORY Masonry's written history before the 18th century is colorful, interesting and almost totally fictional. Masonry seemingly came out of nowhere on June 24, 1717 in London, England, and the most thoughtful Masonic writers admit that almost nothing is known of its roots or its history before that time. Masonry once taught (and many still believe) that the Craft sprang from the builders of King Solomon s Temple, with Solomon being the first Grand Master. Some Masonic writers date Masonry back to the dawn of creation. Today, the main premise is that Masonry developed from medieval stonemason guilds, though no direct proof is available to support this. A more intriguing theory is that Freemasonry originated in the 14th century, when the Knights Templar, a Catholic order of warrior monks, were destroyed by Pope Clement V and King Philip of France. The Knights in France were caught by surprise and crushed, but the English King did not act until three months later, giving the Knights there time to escape. Very likely, most of them went underground in Scotland and eventually resurfaced as Freemasonry. Thus, this Catholic order evolved into a brotherhood professing a universal religion (see Robinson s outstanding book Born in Blood for discussion of this viewpoint). STRUCTURE Freemasonry s basic element is the Blue Lodge, which contains the first three degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason). Membership in the Lodge is by request, with the candidate required to be a man (usually with no major handicaps), have good moral character and express a belief in God (any god). A candidate is accepted for initiation into the Lodge by unanimous consent of its members. Though every Lodge is largely independent, and run by an elected Worshipful Master, each US state has a Grand Lodge, which can grant and revoke Lodge charters in that state. Black Masons gather in Prince Hall lodges and have their own Grand Lodges; Masonry has yet to achieve internal racial harmony. Though doctrinal purity is not enforced, a lodge can lose its charter if it fails to adhere to certain key requirements (such as requiring members to express a belief in Deity). Finally, Masons can believe as much or as little of Masonic lessons as they wish; thus, some view the Lodge as purely a social group, while others see it as the One True Religion. Masons wishing to learn more beyond the Blue Lodge may earn degrees in the Scottish (so-named, even though it started in France) and York (or American) Rites. Though many feel that these degrees contain the real Masonic truths, fewer than 20% proceed beyond the Master Mason degree to these higher degrees. Those holding the top earned degree in either Scottish or York Rite can petition to enter the Shrine. Unlike other Rites, the Shrine is formed for fun and fellowship, and it is marked by a certain level of hilarity. The Scottish Rite has an honorary 33rd degree, which is bestowed on the most worthy Masons. Other orders include the Eastern Star (for female relatives) and DeMolay (for boys). Masonry has also influenced such groups as Odd Fellows, Moose, Eagle and Elk orders, the Knights of Pythias, and the Mormons, to name a few. Much ink has been spilled on whether or not Masonry is a religion. Publicly, Masons ridicule the idea, but many privately confirm it: Freemasonry is undoubtedly religion; it has a dogma; and it practices rites, though the religion is simple and creedless and the dogma is mild. (Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia) Such writers (Coil, Pike, Mackey, etc) indicate that Freemasonry embodies the pure religion established at the beginning of time, with others having only a corrupted version of that religion. These views are not publicly aired, as those who accept Freemasonry as a social group might not accept it as a religion, especially one whose teachings on God and salvation conflict with the Bible. Masonry's religious nature can be seen in both the Lodge and in its rituals: The Lodge is patterned after King Solomon s Temple, and is erected to God and dedicated to Sts John (John the Baptist and the Apostle John), who the ritual claims were "Christian patrons of Masonry". Inside, symbols of the Deity abound: the letter G (refers to God and Geometry), the All-Seeing Eye, the Worshipful Master and the equilateral triangle. Part of the lodge is called the Holy of Holies , which was reserved for God in Solomon's Temple. The rituals are permeated with religious trappings. During the Entered Apprentice initiation, the candidate is described as being in darkness and seeking to be brought into "light" (Masonic truth, or the "true knowledge of Deity"). God is said to be the source of this light. He is further told that entering the Lodge is symbolic of his eventual death and resurrection. In his Blue Lodge oaths, he kneels at the altar and swears "in the presence of Almighty God" and ends with "so help me God." He is also taught by symbolism that self-perfection is the way to salvation (e.g., apron, all-seeing eye, rough ashlar). In the Master Mason s initiation he is symbolically raised from the dead (and into Masonic life). Fictional stories of Old Testament figures presented as fact lend credence to Masonry's supposed Divine origination. This pattern of quasi-religious overtones continues into the Scottish and York rites, with the clear message being that God, whoever He is, endorses Masonry and smiles on all "true Masons". As a result, many Masons feel that the Lodge is all the religion they need. BELIEFS Masons believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the Soul. Since God is man s Father, then all men are His spiritual sons in good standing with Him, regardless of their religious beliefs. Masonry also teaches that self-improvement and good works will secure God s favor and guarantee entry into heaven. Though this may sound good, it isn t Biblical. The God of the Bible is not mankind s Father; He is his Creator. We become children of God (and He our Father) through faith in Jesus: Yet to all who received (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . (John 1:12) As to good works, these apply to our life on earth, but have little to do with salvation. As the Apostle Paul notes: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith...and not by works, so that no one can boast . (Ephesians 2:8-9) Good works are only the practical application of this faith. No one can make himself or herself good enough for heaven. TEACHINGS Freemasonry teaches that it alone safeguards genuine religious truth,that all non-Masons are living in spiritual darkness. Masonic degrees represent progressive steps by which the Mason advances to perfection by mastering these truths : * There are many religions, but they are all part of one Religion, as all gods are part of one God. (Note: By implication, that one Religion is Freemasonry. Masonic rituals and symbols reinforce that belief, and discussions of any other religious beliefs are prohibited during lodge meetings.) * God is an unreachable, uncaring Spirit who cannot be known, named or approached. He should not bothered with petitions. (Note: The Bible teaches a mighty, personal God who is totally at odds with Masonic thought. It also makes him unique from the gods of other religions. The new Mason is first told that God's name was lost; however, the York Rite later teaches that His secret name is Jahbulon , which is derived from the names Jehovah, Baal and Osiris. This joining of the Biblical God with the pagan gods of Assyria and Egypt is representative of the Masonic view that all gods are merely reflections of one God.) * Jesus was not God, only a very good man; His name cannot be used in prayers in many Masonic lodges. (Note: John 1:1 is very clear on who Jesus was. With any meaningful Christian influence on Masonry ending in the 18th century, Masonry has denied Christian doctrine to make itself acceptable to men of all faiths. Since a lodge can include Jews, Christians, Druids, Buddhists, etc, prayers are designed so as to not offend any member. Grand (or Great) Architect of the Universe is a favorite expression for God.) * The Bible is only a symbol, words on a page that represent only part of the will of God. It is no more true or false than is the Islamic Koran or the Book of Mormon. (Note: Despite calling it the rule and guide of faith , the Lodge uses the Bible mainly for oath swearing. Mason Henry Wilson Coil notes in his Encyclopedia that "no authority has held that any Freemason must believe the Bible or any part of it." Masonry actually teaches that divine will is revealed in the Volume of Sacred Law, which includes the Pentateuch, the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon, among others. None of these are considered superior to the others, and the many differences between these books are ignored. Christians see the Bible as the sole compilation of the Word of God.) * Heaven is guaranteed to Masons who practice good works and are morally pure. The Mason s lambskin apron, received in the first degree, is the symbol of that purity of life and conduct which is essentially necessary to gain admittance to heaven. The All-Seeing Eye (i.e., God) is said to reward us according to our works . The Rough/Perfect Ashlar is symbolic of perfection by our own efforts and "the blessing of God". (Note: Though Immortality of the Soul is a prime Masonic belief, little is said about it beyond implying that good works are key to heaven. Merely being a Mason is seemingly enough to be acceptable to God. Masonic rituals constantly trumpet the Mason's high moral standards, with the implication being that Masons are, by definition, the elect, better men than non-Masons, and the fittest to lead mankind into a better future. The Bible says it is faith in Jesus that saves us, not our works, and notes specifically that man is a sinful being, who can never reach perfection by his own efforts.) * From the first degree, Masons are taught to seek light , or Masonic truth, which makes good men better. (Note: Jesus is referred to as the light of the world (John 8:12),but He is not the "light" of Masonry. Unlike Christianity, Masonry does not concern itself with the welfare of men who are not "good", but offers hidden "knowledge", by which "good" men will supposedly become "better", and thus more suited for the path of righteousness. Such a view was once called Gnosticism, and is as totally at odds with Christianity now as it was then.) * Each Mason is expected to become like the grand Master Mason, Hiram Abiff, chief architect of King Solomon s Temple who was foully murdered by apprentices. Each Mason must complete the spiritual temple in his own heart, as Abiff was to complete Solomon s Temple. (Note: This legend is very loosely based on the Hiram of the Bible (1 Kings 7:13), and is a prime example of how Masonry presents fiction as Biblical history. In the Bible, Hiram was a metal worker, not an architect, who finished his work (1 Kings 7:40) and presumable returned to his land. The Bible also tells us that God was the architect of the Temple (1 Chronicles, chapter 28). Despite this, Masons generally believe that the Hiram Abiff story is factual. Some Masons equate Hiram with Jesus Christ, and the legend itself bears resemblance to the Egyptian legend of the gods Isis and Osiris. King Solomon, Hiram, the Temple and other Biblical figures are used extensively in Masonic degrees, and many a Mason never does learn that the stories are fictional.) * Loyalty to Masonry and other Masons is paramount. Masons swear to always conceal and never reveal Masonic secrets and to help each other regardless of right or wrong. (Note: There is no harm in swearing to conceal secrets; however, swearing to always protect fellow Masons leads to conflicting loyalties. Having sworn his oath, would a Mason on jury duty subordinate the requirements of justice to his loyalty to a brother Mason defendant? What kind of morality is that?) * Strict oaths bind the candidate, and God will punish the Mason who violates his oath. (Note: The candidate for the Master Mason degree binds himself: ...under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, my bowels taken from thence and burned to ashes...So help me God. The Shriner swears to Allah, the God of Mohammad . What Christian could honestly swear such oaths without compromising his beliefs? Jesus warned against oath-swearing (Matthew 5:37), but more ominously warned that by your words will you be condemned (Matthew 12:37).) * Masons prefer that outsiders judge them by what they do, not by what they teach, and refer extensively to Masonic charities as proof of their worth. (Note: Charitable works, however good, do not justify Masonry s unChristian teachings. Biblically, good works are the outgrowth of an active faith, and justify a man before men (James 2:18). Of interest, for the year 1990, 42% of the $525 million collected by Masonic charities went to non- public (i.e., Lodge) purposes.) go to part 13 CONCLUSION To repeat, it is not what a Mason believes about Masonry that matters; it is what its rituals teach. The Mason who believes that Masonry is Divinely inspired and begins to search for Masonic "light" will be led into a non-Biblical theology. The more he believes in Masonry, the less he believes in the Bible. Three main factors drive this: + First is the Masonic view that many sacred books exist which equally reflect the Will of God. In this view, the Bible is no better than the Book of Mormon, a view any Christian must find offensive, if not ridiculous. + Second is the strong Masonic teaching of tolerance, which says that no man's religious beliefs should be criticized. Though tolerance is important in our secular society, Masonry uses it to equate all religious viewpoints. For example, In the Scottish Rite 26th degree (Prince of Mercy), the emphasis is that Christianity is not unique, that it shares common doctrines with all other religions; therefore, it is neither better nor worse than any other. Yet the Bible teaches the complete uniqueness of Christianity, and review of other religions (Mormonism, Buddhism, Islam, etc) shows their irreconcilable differences. How can a Christian be tolerant of Mormonism, for example, when eternal punishment in hell awaits the Mormon? + Third, the Mason is taught to put Masonry above all other things. To exemplify, the prospective Mason must remove his wedding ring before he can begin the first degree; thus, his first choice is between the ring that symbolizes his marriage or Masonry. The object of this lesson is clear, and Masonry, with its secrets, remains something in which the wife can little share. Masonry teaches another god and another gospel , which is one of salvation by self-improvement. In accepting any Deity, Freemasonry opens its doors to cultists (e.g., Mormons) and those who practice occult and pagan mystery religions. Such practitioners often teach their beliefs by presenting them as explanations of Masonic symbols or inner meanings of the degrees. As a result, virtually every Christian denomination that has studied Freemasonry has noted its incompatibility with Christianity. This alone should give pause to anyone involved with, or wishing to join, Freemasonry. But we close with the Apostle Paul s admonition to Christians: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and (Satan)? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) QUESTIONS FOR MASONS: * If Masonic teachings are useful, why reserve them for Masons only? * If the Bible and the Koran are equal, why do they disagree? The Bible says Jesus was God, the Koran says he wasn't. * How can the Mormon, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian Mason worship the same God when their descriptions of Him are so different? * What have you learned in Masonry that has made you a better man? ----------------------------------------------------- NEW AGE MOVEMENT INTRODUCTION Classified as a religion, the New Age movement is worth addressing due to its popularity. Some see the movement as a master plan to take over the world, but in reality it is made up of dozens of groups operating in a fairly independent fashion, and using different strategies, to achieve a common set of goals. The movement can be defined as: A concerted effort on the part of otherwise dissimilar people to abolish God totally as a distinct reality and replace Him with humanity. (Rev. Philip H. Lochhaas) To the New Ager, humanity will one day acquire all the attributes of God by means of a quantum evolutionary leap . HISTORY The New Age movement is as old as man himself. Biblically, it is first mentioned in Genesis with the serpent s statement to Eve in the garden of Eden: You will not surely die...your eyes will be will be like God... (Genesis 3:4-6) The same lie Satan used so long ago to destroy the relationship between Adam and Eve and God is used even today to destroy relationships between man and God. And Satan is the master liar: "(Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies . (John 8:44) Historically, rebellious man has tried to devise ways to make himself God. His intent has always been to free himself from God s strict instructions, and therefore allow himself to follow his own desires. Satan does all he can to assist in this, for his own reasons, and has seen no need to deviate from his original lie as recorded in Genesis. It is that lie upon which the New Age movement is based. STRUCTURE New Age has occult and humanistic aspects. The occult version involves reincarnation, crystal power, channeling spirit guides, UFO S, extraterrestrials, and self-worship. Since the occult aspect follows fads, it is often dismissed as trivial (though not by followers). The humanistic side involves developing unlimited human potential and an ethical system centered in responsibility only to one s self. The importance of this reliance on mankind s perceptions of things cannot be overemphasized, as it has kept Satan s lie alive since the dawn of mankind. It is based on the view that human experience is the final authority in morality. Whatever hurts human life or destroys human happiness is wrong; whatever helps human life and therefore happiness is right. Acts by themselves are neither right nor wrong; their effects make them one or the other. Homosexuality, for example, is not wrong as it supposedly hurts no one. Murder is right or wrong depending upon who dies. BELIEFS In the New Age movement, mankind can evolve into anything it chooses. There are no fixed norms for us; we are Divine. There is no right or wrong, good or evil; there is only our perceptions of these things. A time is coming in our spiritual evolution when we will become omnipotent. At that time, called the Age of Aquarius, a critical mass of individuals will achieve personal transformation , which will trigger a universal consciousness shift, and we will finally enter the New Age, where there will be no hunger, no war, no racism, no death. In New Age thinking, God is impersonal, an it or the Force (for you Star Wars fans), and not separate or distinct from creation. This it continually expands through human evolution. Humanity, like all creation, shares the essential being of God and is Divine, and therefore under no law and accountable to no one. All humanity s problems rise from our ignorance; therefore, the only need is transformation, or to become aware of our divinity. Once aware, we can choose the direction of our further evolution. Transformation can be brought about by any number of techniques that can be applied to the body, mind and/or spirit. The object of this transformation is to dismantle our old perception of reality and build a new one, based on the belief that we are our own creator. Personal transformation is the basis for a global transformation that will be characterized by social unity and mass enlightenment. Once we realize and act upon our Divinity, all negative aspects of human behavior will disappear. TEACHINGS Some of the New Age teachings include: * Reincarnation, or the method by which mankind lives many lives, until, by his own actions, he achieves the state of perfection. (Note: the Bible does not support this concept: Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement... (Hebrews 9:27)) * Karma, the balance of good and evil, is the controlling agent for each subsequent incarnation. Those living evil lives take on negative karma, and will be punished in their next life. Large amounts of negative Karma can be burned off by choosing to live a miserable life, such as being aborted, born handicapped or in extreme poverty. The individual can then choose one bad life to ensure himself of a better incarnation down the road, and thus a short cut to perfection. (Note: Where Karma is a widespread belief, such as in India, concern over social conditions is nil. If the poor have chosen their state to burn off negative karma, why should anyone interfere?) * Channeling spirit guides are beings from the past or future who currently have no physical existence in the human plane . Often called ascended masters , they are perfected beings who have achieved Deity and pass their wisdom through human channels . (Note: the Bible speaks of two kinds of physical possessions. The first is demonic possession, of which several examples are given (see Luke 11:24-26). The second is when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit. Channeling falls under the first category.) * Extraterrestrials and UFO s from planets and stars exist throughout the galaxy. They belong to highly cultured races who are spiritually and scientifically millions of years ahead of us. They share their advanced knowledge through specially chosen channels. (Note: the Bible does not speak of this, except to note that God created all things in the universe, to include little green men , should they one day land on Earth. New Agers like the idea of advanced alien races to support their view of mankind's progression to perfection.) * Some New Agers expect the coming of an "enlightened one" to preach the "way". Some have identified him as Lord Maitreya, who is somewhat of a cross between Buddha and Jesus Christ. He is a member of the Great White Brotherhood, the spiritual hierarchy that mediates between the human and divine realms. (Note: Maitreya's return was predicted for 1982, but he never did show up. The idea of a coming world teacher remains a part of New Age thinking, but has decreased since that failed prediction. Every non-Christian religion must account for Jesus, and this theory is how some New Agers handle the problem. Jesus said he would indeed return, but for purposes of judgement, not to teach a different "way". The real way is already clearly specified in the Bible.) * Crystals and pyramids are ways of channeling energy for our uses. Crystals absorb and store energy, particularly "universal (or spiritual) energy", that can be used at a later time for healing or other purposes. Pyramids alter the physical, chemical and biological processes going on inside their space. For example, meat will not rot as fast inside a pyramid as outside one. (Note: no scientific evidence exists to support any of the claims of power derived from either crystals or pyramids. Both seem to serve as spiritual crutches for those refusing to recognize Divine Power and Will.) * Humanism is the means of freeing mankind from guilt. As he is Divine, he holds his future in his own hands. There are no universal standards of morality and ethics; man perceives what is right and what is wrong. (Note: this immediately conflicts with the Bible, which teaches of man s inherently sinful nature: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . (Romans 3:23)) CONCLUSION New Agers should keep this verse in mind: In the pride of your heart you say, I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god.... But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god . (Ezekiel 28:1-2) Any system of things built on man is built on his faults and weaknesses as well as his strengths. To believe that mankind will evolve into a god is to deny recorded history. Have we improved since Paul described us 1900 years ago: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him...Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools...They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator...Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts...Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion...They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice . (Romans 1:21-29) How can a system of things built on mankind be any better than man himself? To the New Ager, no ethical or moral standards exist outside those determined by himself. But to focus on mankind is to focus on failure. It is no surprise that the Bible is rejected and ridiculed by these people, as it serves witness to the true God, states what He expects from us and what the penalty will be for rejecting Him. But, the New Agers are right about one thing: personal transformation is needed; however, it is the transformation that comes from trust in Jesus that will bring mankind into a New Age. QUESTIONS FOR NEW AGERS: * Do you believe you are divine or can achieve divinity? If yes, how do you achieve this? * Who was Jesus and what are his teachings? Was he God, or merely a god as Jehovah s Witnesses believe? Or was he a man who improved himself to godhood as the Mormons believe? * Describe right and wrong . Are they absolute terms or do they depend on circumstances? * Does Satan exist? Who is he? If not, has the Bible lied about him? ------------------------------------------------------------- BIBLIOGRAPHY A Bridge to Light, Rex Hutchens (Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, 1988). Answering Mormons Questions, Bill McKeever (Bethany House, 1991). Born in Blood - The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, John J. Robinson (M. Evans & Company, 1989). Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, Henry Wilson Coil (Macoy Publishing, 1961). Freemasonry: The Invisible Cult In Our Midst, Jack Harris (1983). Gospel Principles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1988. How to Respond to the New Age Movement, Philip H. Lochhaas Concordia Publishing House, 1988). Jehovah s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, David A. Reed (Baker Book House, 1986). Morals and Dogma, Albert Pike (L.H. Jenkins, Inc, 1945). Masonic Ritual and Monitor, Malcolm C. Duncan (Charles T. Powner, 1974). Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?, Jerald and Sandra Tanner (Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987). New Age Encyclopedia, J. Gordon Melton (Gale Research Inc, 1990). New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1984. No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie (Knopf, 1971). Pilgrimage Through the Watch Tower, Kevin R. Quick (Baker Book House, 1989). Principles of the Gospel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1986. Should You Believe in the Trinity?, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1989. Strengthen Your Brethren, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, 1991. The Book of Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981. The God Makers, Ed Decker and Dave Hunt (Harvest House, 1984). The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin (Bethany House, 1986). The Maze of Mormonism, Walter Martin (Regal Books, 1978) The New International Version Study Bible (Zondervan). The Newly-Made Mason, H.L. Haywood (Macoy Publishing, 1973). The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, John Ankerberg and John Weldon (Moody Press, 1989). The Trinity, F. Donald Harris and Ronald A. Harris (Loizeaux Brothers, 1971). The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1968.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank