Christianity and Cults

There is a lot of talk these days about Mormonism, with Romney being of that faith. People tend to think it is just another denomination or sect of Christianity, but a deeper look into their theology proves otherwise. I’m not bashing the Latter-Day Saints, but I want to emphasize how cults differ from mainstream Christianity. I remember years ago hearing a lesson on “Patterns in the Cults” by Watchman Fellowship and “My Life Without God” by William Murray, son of the famous activist Atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hare.

How do cults vary from orthodox Christianity?

Every cult VARIES in its teachings from one or more of six fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith (from June Hunt).

  • Virgin Birth: Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, 23).
  • Atonement: Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can pay the penalty for personal sin (Romans 5:8–9).
  • Resurrection: Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in bodily form and was seen on earth by many (1 Corinthians 15:3–6).
  • Incarnation: Jesus Christ, who is God, took on human form and was fully God and fully man (John 1:1–3, 14).
  • Eschatology: After Jesus Christ visibly returns to earth during the end times, a final judgment is a certainty, sending the unrighteous to eternal punishment and the righteous to eternal life (Hebrews 9:27–28; Matthew 25:46).
  • Scripture: The Bible is wholly inspired by God, is truthful and accurate, is God’s revelation of himself to mankind, and is the only authority and source for faith and practice (righteous living) (Proverbs 30:5–6; 2 Timothy 3:16).

When someone you know gets involved in a cult, is it harmless enthusiasm toward a godly group or escalating enslavement to a deviant cult? To determine the answer, get some of their printed material or any other information from the group, and apply the MATHEMATICAL FORMULA. Does it:

  • ADD to God’s Word?
    Mormons add three other books of Scripture, including the Book of Mormon, “the most correct book on earth.” Rosicrucians include, along with the Bible, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Lost Books of Jesus as their holy books. (Proverbs 30:5–6)
  • SUBTRACT from the Person of Jesus Christ?
    Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was actually Michael the Archangel, not God in the flesh. The Unification Church (“Moonies”) teaches that Jesus failed in His mission on earth and that Reverend Moon is the second coming of the Messiah. (Colossians 1:15–16)
  • MULTIPLY Salvation Requirements?
    The New Age Movement denies Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for salvation and substitutes reincarnation as the means of perfecting the soul. Scientology teaches that “engrams’ (subconscious negative impressions) have developed for 74 trillion years, causing health and psychological problems. Only through countless therapeutic sessions at costly fees can people achieve the ultimate state to become “theta clear.” The goal of an “operating thetan” is to be clear from the necessity of having a body and to live with “supernatural power” outside the body. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
  • DIVIDE the Follower’s Loyalty?
    Heaven’s Gate taught that one must renounce family ties and all sexual relations in order to enter the Level Beyond Human (heaven). Branch Davidians taught that one cannot be loyal to God without being loyal to David Koresh. (Exodus 20:3)

Cult Leaders: Characteristic of all cult leaders is the belief that they alone have the one true message from God.

  • They present themselves as infallible authorities, requiring absolute loyalty.
  • They persuade through their strong, charismatic personalities.
  • They prohibit individual freedom, expecting unquestioned obedience.
  • They promote themselves as divine or as God’s sole agent on earth.
  • They possess “new truth” from God, while perverting biblical truth.
  • They provide simplistic answers for complex problems.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve (2 Corinthians 11:13–15).

Cult Followers: Cults thrive on people who know little or nothing of the Bible and who readily replace logical reasoning with emotional decisions. They willingly pledge allegiance to charismatic leaders who claim to have the key to deeper truths and the answers to all the details of daily living.

  • They follow the cult leader blindly.
  • They forfeit individual freedom.
  • They forsake friends and family to have a new “family.”
  • They fear punishment for not conforming to legalistic rules and regulations.
  • They feel misunderstood and persecuted by the outside world.
  • They forego reason for emotion.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

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