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Have you ever heard that phrase “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” before?

If You have,,, it is most likely that you heard it from a cult member or cult group. ALL cults say they are the “one true Church” (referred to as OTC hereafter). All cults have 3 things in common. 1. The all have distorted teachings about God, specifically Jesus and the Trinity. 2. They all employ a teaching and culture of legalism. And while they may give lip service to “salvation by grace”, they apply a system of salvation by works. 3. They all claim to be “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” !

This idea of the OTC among cults is expressed in many ways, some of them very ambiguously and not always clearly understood by the folks that hear the assertions. The claim to be the OTC by cults, and the many different ways that say or imply it,, is generally called Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism being defined as “Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom” (1).

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Marks of Abusive Religious Groups
By Rev. Keith Gibson

Often in cult ministry we focus on groups that deny central aspects of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, deity of Christ, salvation by grace etc. Many Christians believe that if they simply look at a doctrinal statement, they will be able to spot potentially harmful organizations. Such may not be the case. There are many groups, such as University Bible Fellowship and International Church of Christ which look very good on paper but are involved in practices that can prove spiritually damaging. Our Kansas City office has recently become involved with one such group. It is important that believers are able to move beyond the doctrinal statements to recognize other telltale signs of danger.

Elitism. Abusive religious groups see themselves as a cut above all others. Whether this manifests in a belief that they are the only true church or merely that they are the most dynamic and committed, other churches are viewed with suspicion and disdain.

Manipulation. Following closely on the heels of the elitism are subtle practices of manipulation. Most of the time, this is accomplished by limiting options. An easy way to understand this concept is to picture a rat in a maze. Though no one physically touches the rat to move it in a particular direction, the choices the rat is given are so limited that its course is essentially predetermined. Similarly, alternatives are presented to the member in such a way that only one choice is really possible. For instance, “Do you want to be wholehearted for Jesus or continue to love the world and run track?”. Obviously no one wants to be thought of as loving the world. But the thought is never allowed that the member might be able to glorify God by using God-given athletic abilities. By presenting the alternatives in this way, the leader of the group is able to conform the behavior of the members into his/her ideal. At the same time, the member feels like he/she is the one who made the decision. Thus it is not uncommon for members to protest that they are not being coerced. “I chose to quit track. No one made me do it.” Technically, they are right. However, the pressure applied made conformity inevitable, especially if one has already bought the message that this is the only true church.

Commitment to God = Commitment to Group. In abusive groups a subtle switch is made that causes commitment to the activities and beliefs of the group to equal commitment to God. This may be extremely difficult to spot at first because most of us express our commitment to God through faithfulness and ministry in our local church. The difference is one of degree. Imagine a student in college. Abusive groups may ask the student to lead small-group studies on multiple nights of the week. Other nights may be consumed with gatherings of the entire group and leadership training. On weekends the group has evangelistic outreach activities and of course there are regular special emphasis weeks. The student may find that their class work or family life is suffering under the burden. However, if he questions the amount the group is requiring he will be told he needs to stop loving the world and go wholeheartedly after God. Never is the thought allowed that God may actually want him to study or spend time with his family.

Rigidity. In abusive groups everything is black and white. There are few areas of conscience in which Christians can legitimately disagree. Related to this is a heavy emphasis on works. These groups rob members of intimacy with God for one can never do enough, sacrifice enough, follow the rules close enough to be sure that God has been satisfied. Many of the members of these groups live in a morbid self-reflection, consumed with worry over whether or not God can accept them today. Some members of the group, especially those who are new or close to the leadership, may actually feel that they ARE keeping all the rules. These members tend to become very judgmental of others in the group they perceive to be weaker. One young man, when I questioned why he had pressured another member to cut his hair a particular way, responded coldly, “Well I was worried about _____ because it didn’t look like he had left enough behind to me.”

Much more could be said including the use of guilt, milieu control and a host of other characteristics but the sample above should give the discerning Christian a foundation for recognizing the practices of spiritually abusive groups. Paul Martin has called these signs, “the footprints of the wolf”. In order for us to protect ourselves and our families one thing is certain, we must look deeper than the doctrinal statement.

Rev. Keith Gibson

http://www.arcapologetics.org/articles/article12.htm

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Familiar Spirits

I was trying to figure out how many times that I had preached at my former church and I think that I have over 1,000 times not counting revivals and mission trips plus the Monday nights in Tuscaloosa. In addition to that, I also have attended hundreds of charismatic church services and sat in class every day for two years in a Charismatic seminary.

I have a tremendous amount of experience in the Charismatic Movement which is based on the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. In the Charismatic church you have the running, dancing, falling out, tongues messages, mail readings, supposed faith healings, words from God, personal prophecies, words of wisdom and on and on. It is a common experience in the Charismatic church to have someone come up to you and speak into your life. I have had this happen to me so many times that I cannot remember. I have had dozens of church members and ministers come up to me and say, “God told me to tell you…………….” or “Thus saith the Lord………..”.

Think about it. Joe the plumber comes up to you at church and tells you that Almighty God Lord Jehovah has personally spoken to him about your personal life. Or you walk into a meeting and the prophet calls you to the front and starts telling you, in front of everyone, your junk. I have had more than one prophet “read my mail”. It use to fascinate me how these people were able to hear from God.

Trouble is that I became close and intimate friends with several people that moved in the gifts. One person told me that they could “read people’s mail” even before they were saved. My wife Coni can do it. That’s one reason why I could never cheat on her. She would know. She knows everything it seems.

But is she hearing from the Holy Spirit or a familiar spirit? I had another popular minister tell me that his ministry was partly “Mental” which was his way of saying he manipulated people. Often in the prayer line he would grab people by their head and scream JESUS. It would scare the crap out of them. The adrenalin rush would over ride the symptom, and he knew it. He had a routine, of putting pressure on people by standing them up and asking if they had been healed. Of course, peer pressure and manipulation would influence them to testify that they had been healed. I have been to this ministers meetings many, many times and have never seen a single real healing outside of a stomach ache.

I have had other minister friends look me right in the eye and tell me exactly what was going on in my life. In each case, I can debunk what happened. My personal life is all over the Internet. I have been on TV and in the papers. I always shared my heart from the pulpit, and my Cd’s are all over the world. It would be very easy to read my mail.

I firmly believe that much of what happens in the Charismatic church is emotion, learned behavior, peer pressure, mass hysteria and fearfully, Familiar Spirits.

I did a word study on Familiar Spirits. You can Google it and read many articles. Familiar comes from a Latin word that means family. It was thought that certain sorcerers, witches and wizards could have a household spirit to help them with charms, healings and knowing mysteries. This is in the Bible too. Familiar comes from the Hebrew word “OB” which means: a leather vessel, like a wine pouch. They believed that people could be vessels to spirits.

I believe that many people in the Charismatic Church have opened themselves up unto demonic deception and activity by seeking words from Prophets and such. I believe that it is a dangerous thing, to have a mere man tell you that he is speaking on the behalf of God with personal information about your life. These situations are almost always in a public setting.

I wonder, if I have the Written Word of God and the Holy Spirit living inside of me, why should I listen to what some yahoo has to say to me? I will not receive any “word” from anyone. I will receive biblical preaching, biblical counseling, biblical teaching, but I will never ever again subject myself to the mutterings of so called and self anointed prophets.

I know many people who are wasting their time holding on to some word some preacher gave them about something. I met one minister that pastors 30 people in a country church. He has had 30 people for like 30 years.

Nothing wrong with that, but he got up in front of us and said that God told him he would have a thousand people in his church. Well, he is getting on up there in years, so I hope it happens in a hurry. I have seen so much abuse and manipulation in this movement. Oh I wish I had a dollar for everyone that has told me that God has spoken out loud to them. I would build a mega church in Sudan! I could write about this subject all night long. more later.

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2008/10/familiar-spirits.html

 

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Understanding Spiritual Abuse
By M. E. Hagemann

Prologue
Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

What is Spiritual Abuse?
For our purposes, it is enough to state that spiritual abuse is “the misuse of power, position and influence for the personal gain or egotistical needs of the leader or leaders of an organization or a movement.” There are many excellent books that have been written on this subject. Spiritual abuse, rooted in hyper-authoritarianism, is not a new phenomenon, it has been a part of religious life for centuries and elements of spiritual abuse can be found across the entire spectrum of Christian and quasi-Christian faith groups. Lately, it seems that spiritual abuse is becoming more common in Charismatic churches.

Spiritual abuse is always about the misuse of power and authority. We need to make it emphatically clear, from the beginning, that God is a God of order and that within the church there has to be a healthy (mutual) submission between church members and the authority that God rises up. Having said that, it is a disturbing fact that authoritarianism and power posturing is evident in many churches. There are two reasons why it is so disturbingly common in charismatic groups.

The first is that flimsily constructed and often unbiblical teachings on authority are popular and circulate within the charismatic movement where they are seized upon by “leaders” who would seek to establish themselves as “legitimate” spiritual authorities. We must not underestimate the power of these teachings; most originate out of America and range from the views of Dr. Mark T. Barclay who would label familiarity between a pastor and his congregation as “sin” to the doctrine of “fathering” that holds sway in many charismatic churches. The fathering doctrine is based on a misunderstanding of I Corinthians 4: 15 “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Upon this simple description of the founding relationship Paul had with the Corinthian church, some dare build a teetering edifice of complicated, hierarchical relationships in the church.

Secondly, it must be noted that amongst the Charismatics, Bible scholarship is poorly established as a personal or group discipline. This is as true of charismatic church leaders as it is of individual believers in charismatic groups. Unlike the Bereans who queried and tested every word that Paul brought to them, many modern Charismatic Christians accept anything and everything that flows to them out of their Perspex pulpits. Most modern Charismatics have not read the Bible through, and too many rely upon Bible paraphrases such as The Message in their moments of Biblical reflection. Serious study and intellectual application is commonly sneered upon in charismatic circles, further complicating the situation.

Recognizing Spiritual Abuse
Spiritually abusive situations can be recognized quite readily. People involved in an abusive situation begin by feeling that generally things just don’t seem right. As they focus attention on their growing dis-ease; a typical pattern of abuse might manifest itself with one or more
symptoms much like these:

• The leader(s) will always need to have absolute control and the final authority over a ministry. If there is an eldership, it will be composed of only a few men (and women) who are chosen not according to the “leadership qualifications” (as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13) but because they can be controlled by the “set man” and relied upon to defend all things he says and does. It is unlikely the leader will be in any meaningful relationship with people or churches outside of his group. He will avoid being held accountable by a denomination or his peers in the so called “professional ministry”. It is quite likely that the set man will justify his lack of interaction with other churches via a disapproval of their doctrines or even spiritual smugness.

• The leader or “set man” will be insecure in his calling and will likely interpret any questioning as a direct challenge to his authority. An insecure leader will need to bolster his position by “teaching” on authority in the church.

• The abusive church will exhibit a clear hierarchical structure. Despite the fact that scripture (in 1Corinthians 12:12-24) uses the analogy of the body, where all parts are knitted together, none more special than the other, and where each has a unique place, the abusive church will have a clear rank oriented hierarchy. At the top of the pyramid will be the “set man” or founding pastor the man with “the vision”. Underneath him will come another, usually a senior elder or assistant pastor, whose job it is to act as the set man’s bodyguard and “hit man”. A little lower will come the rest of the elders, and even here might be another rank split, with some within eldership being more “trusted” than others, and so permitted into the inner circle of the set man and his 2 i/c.

Underneath the elders will come the home group leaders-the last of the “ranked” members. Underneath these will come the “dumb sheep”. The 98% of any church.

• The abusive leader is deceptive. The abusive leader cannot afford to be transparent and is likely to be a master at slick speech and manipulative words. The abusive leader is not above lying or deliberately engineering circumstances to get his own way. When the abusive leader chooses to confront or discipline members, the atmosphere is typically that of a kangaroo court. Judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner are roles filled by the “set man” and maybe one of his trusted henchmen The accused will be “tried” in secret, and no reliable records kept. As the abuser lays waste to his victim, he will cover his tracks the best he can.

• The abusive leader and his cohorts will have a list of unwritten, unspoken rules. Whilst “freedom” might be preached, in reality a complex series of unwritten laws apply to “the sheep”. The sheep, of course, never know what these rules are until they have unwittingly broken one of them. Many of these unwritten rules are attempts to govern the way that sheep relate to their leaders. Thus one can be found guilty very quickly of having a “bad attitude”…

• There is little or no financial accountability in an abusive ministry. Tithing will be required of ordinary members, but despite the enormous revenues that tithing can generate in a church the church books and accounts will not be freely available for inspection. It is unlikely that annual congregational meetings will take place at which balance sheets and accounting of expenditure will be made available. The salary and benefits of the set man will be a closely guarded secret and the congregation is likely to be unaware of debt incurred on their behalf. Neither will their permission or advice be sought for placing the congregation in debt (i.e. to finance a mortgage bond on a church building).

• Abusive leaders tend to have dominating “in your face” attitudes when they choose to confront apparently errant sheep. Haughtiness and anger, instead of gentleness and a loving spirit are too often experienced by those unfortunate Christians who do not meet the tyrant’s demands or conform, as quickly as might be required. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:2-3 that “the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” [emphasis added]. Persons on the receiving of tongue lashings from abusive leaders are demeaned, humiliated and systemically broken down by leaders with haughty attitudes who rail, uncontrolled and unchecked, against a fellow brother in Christ.

• The abusive leader is somewhat paranoid. He will compound this paranoia by a reluctance to keep written records or minutes of meetings etc., This further fuels communication problems as he will get vital information mixed up and confused as the net closes in.

• The abusive leader loves things and uses people. One of the hallmarks of an abusive church is how many people have left the group because they could no longer stand being used and manipulated.

• The abusive leader or religious system works very hard at creating and maintaining a superlative image-spectacular programs, public ministrie s etc,. There will likely be church schools, feeding programs, youth groups, bands and outreach ministries that are spectacular in nature. Look carefully at them; do they reflect back on the glory of Jesus Christ or are these monuments to the group leader.

• There is likely to be a noticeable discrepancy between the “vision statement” and the actual state of the ministry’s various programs. Thus churches with a declared aim of moving into a certain region or area, are unlikely to have done so in any meaningful way.

• Performance based approval is heavily promoted. Apart from the fact that performance is the opposite of God’s grace, many charismatic groups are quite open about their requirement for members to “perform” or demonstrate their commitment. A South African independent charismatic fellowship published a positional paper that included this statement “to function in the gifts and calling of God (true riches) we must prove ourselves faithful in that which belongs to another (whether God or man)”. Quite often this performance is linked to indeterminate time spent in menial “service” (cleaning toilets) for example. Quite often, too, abusive leaders will have the uncanny knack of honing in on a member’s God-given gifts and talents and specifically excluding them from service that utilizes those gifts. An example would be a talented musician who may not play on the music team until he has shuffled a few thousand seats around a hall for a year or two.

Abusive ministries are notorious wasters of talent.
• An over-reliance on untested prophecy and “words of knowledge” in deciding the direction of a ministry or program within the church.

• Any occurrence of teaching or practice that has the effect of watering down or nullifying an individual’s ability to hear God for himself. Specifically ordinary church members might be required to “submit” for approval any ideas, even decisions of a personal nature, that they might have or believe that God is guiding them into. Scripture warns us that is safety in the counsel of numbers, but it is a fine line between getting a second opinion and being told what one may or may not do.

• People who choose to leave the group will do so under a cloud. They will not be released with love or any kind of public farewell usually. There will likely be shame or slander directed at them as they leave. Over time, an abusive group will have quite a collection of alumni with similar horror stories of abuse to talk about. A grossly abusive group will, of course, not be experiencing increase in membership.

• Victims of abusive churches very often manifest broken lives and crushed spiritual faith after departing a dangerous religious group. Divorce, depression, drug and alcohol addictions, family and work problems are the price of their religious addiction. This further fuels the abusive church leaders who thrive on scary stories about what happened to ‘so and so’ after he/she left the group…

The twisting of Scripture
One of the most common “tricks” employed by abusive religious groups is the out –of-context use of scripture or blatant “cut and past” of pieces of scripture to support an idea or pet doctrine that they seek to impose upon their followers. This is probably the direct result of the overall appalling standard of Biblical exegesis and theological training in charismatic circles. The normal rules of Biblical interpretation (an academic science called hermeneutics) are thrown overboard precisely because so many charismatic leaders have no theological training even worth mentioning. Whilst there are some scriptures that stand as Christian truth on their own (Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection for example) there is an exceptionally large proportion within the body of Holy Scripture that cannot be lifted out and applied willy nilly to an aspect of life. The established principals of scriptural interpretation are roughly as follows:

• What does the verse appear to say?
• What does it say in the context of surrounding verses/chapters/books of the Bible?
• What is the historical and social context of this set of Scriptures?
• How does the interpretation of this scripture change as one reads it in the original languages?

These are important issues and it is because of the sheer lack of scholarship and the smug attitudes many charismatic leaders have towards theological training, that so much hurtful rubbish is preached out of charismatic pulpits around the world. Some classical examples of scripture twisting are reviewed below. Most commonly, authoritarian leaders will use 1 Chronicles 16:22 (or its parallel Psalm 105:12-15 to justify stifling any criticism directed at leaders. This scripture says quite clearly (or so it seems):

“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm” (NIV)

Thus any number of authoritarians will claim the divine right to do as they please. The problem is that the verse is taken completely out of context and applied to a contemporary situation that was the furthest thing from the mind of Ezra, the author. The original intention of the scripture was to record the historical fathers of the historical facts of God’s ongoing provision and guidance of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the historical fathers of the Hebrews/Israelites). Thus when we read the verse in Biblical context it becomes very different in character and meaning to that which modern authoritarians would have it be applied:

When they [meaning the patriarchs] were but few in number, few indeed and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed non man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings; ‘Do no touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm’ 1 Chronicles 16:19-22 NIV)

Interestingly, all Christians are “God’s anointed”. A quick look at 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 describes this amazing fact:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Thus the twisted logic employed by the authoritarian wielders of 1 Chronicles 16:22,  lounders entirely on the simple fact that as Christians we are all God’s anointed…. Leadership have the God-given duty to lovingly correct; rebuke and even excommunicate brothers caught in obvious sin (e.g. fornication, drunkenness etc.,). Church discipline always has its goal the repentance and restoration of the sinner caught in scripturally defined sin, but the leader’s right of correction never, under any circumstances whatsoever, extends to the hateful scorning, slandering , humiliating, breaking down, abusing, shunning, attacking or in any way tearing down a fellow Christian.

A similarly twisted piece of Scripture is that in Hebrews 13:17
“17 Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

This Scripture is often cited by certain political groups as Scripture justification for not resisting even the foulest and most corrupt of civilian governments. The key to understanding this scripture is that we are only required to obey authority that is legitimate and to the point that our obedience does not clash with Scripture or our consciences. When the church authorities make requirements of you that you know are not Biblically justifiable; or when church authorities stop being servants and become, instead, tyrants (thus becoming illegitimate authorities) then we are not required to obey them. David “disobeyed” Saul by fleeing from him. Jesus regularly floutedthe laws and traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. Peter and Paul bluntly told Jewish religious leaders that they would obey God before man. The principle of Hebrews 13:17 is to obey legitimate authority; but we are certainly not required to obey madmen or people who would lead us astray with their teachings.

Often people in abusive situations find themselves in situations where they need the protection of civil authority. This is when the hoary favorite of the Scripture twisters, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 is flashed around with impunity.

1 When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? 2 Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide these little things among yourselves? 3 Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?

So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth. 4 If you have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? 5 I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments? 6 But instead, one Christian sues another—right in front of unbelievers! 7 to have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8 But instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your own Christian brothers and sisters.

This scripture illustrates a very important Biblical principle – that it is infinitely preferable for petty matters to be sorted out within the church. The problem here is that the sort of disputes that can arise in abusive situations are no longer petty matters of offence taken and so on.

Very often, civil or common laws have been breached and there is absolutely nothing wrong with approaching the police or the courts to prosecute and resolve such issues. A clear instance of this is seen in Acts 22:23-29 where Paul, accused by Jewish leaders of various “religious” crimes makes full use of the extraordinary benefits of being a born Roman citizen, to prevent himself from suffering an illegal beating. Further into the Book of Acts, Paul uses his legal right of appeal to Caesar in order to defend himself against the false charges brought against him by the Jewish leaders:

7 On Paul’s arrival in court, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove. 8 Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty” he said. “I have committed no crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government.” 9 Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial right before be there?” 10 But Paul replied “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty. 11 If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, neither you nor anyone else has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!” 12 Festus conferred with his advisors and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you shall go!” (Acts 25:7-12 New Living Translation)

Another Favorite of scripture twisters is 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are (NIV) This verse has been offered up countless times as justification for some of the silliest things ever done in the church – the appointment of incompetents to positions of leadership for example. Whilst this Scripture seems like a license to do weird things and get away with it, the actual intent of the Scripture is less liberal. In these words Paul is showing us that the way of the cross is so simple that anyone can understand it; that salvation is totally from God and not dependent on works that we might do.

There are other examples of Scripture twisting that we can quote, but most often the best preparation against scripture twisting is to know what the Bible has to say about leadership and how leadership should conduct itself. J. Lee Grady, in his book: What Happened to the Fire:

Rekindling the Blaze of Charismatic Renewal, writes these inspired words on the subject of leadership and authoritarianism:

The Apostle Peter laid down a set of guidelines for church eldership where he wrote his first Epistle to the early church:

To the elders amongst you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1Peter 5:1-3)

We lord over others naturally. That is the way of the way of the world. But Peter reminded the believers in Asia minor that Christ had introduced a revolutionary new approach – leadership though humility, servant hood and example. Jesus demonstrated that radical approach to leadership when He dressed like a slave and washed His disciples’ feet. When two of his closest followers entertained a lust for power, Jesus told them:

You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. No so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28)

This godly method of governing, however, has not been the rule in most charismatic churches, particularly independent ones. Since the renewal blossomed in the late 1960’s, many groups that began with vibrant faith degenerated quickly into legalism and authoritarianism. Some ministry leaders have exalted themselves as kings over their own kingdoms, giving their churches or ministries the characteristics of cults [emphasis added].

When and how to escape an abusive church Many people will agonize over leaving a group they have begun to see as manipulative and abusive. No matter how bad the situation might be, the wrench of leaving threaten an impact similar to the traumas of death and divorce in the family. Some, clearly desperate to do the will of God to the end, will stick it out and justify their staying with genuine cries of: “God hasn’t told me to leave.” The only kind of logical response to this, is the single question: “Has God told you to stay”

One of the reasons why people are reluctant to leave is a misunderstanding of who owns the sheep in God’s flock. The pastor most certainly does not own the flock; they belong to God.

The passive acceptance of staying in the church where one appears to have been placed by God needs serious debunking. The Bible warns us most severely against being led astray by false teachers and false prophets. We, as Christians, have a duty to know our doctrines well and to test everything that is taught to us. We have no business sitting in churches where false teaching is tolerated.

Another aspect to consider is this: One of the major purposes behind belonging to a church group is that one can be encouraged and grow in faith and Christian maturity. If one is not being encouraged, if people are experiencing harshness instead of love; the people are marking time or regressing in their spiritual walks, then clearly something is seriously amiss with that particular group and it would be wise to consider moving “home”.

Leaving an abusive church is, however, something that only people involved can decide upon. Concerned friends and family cannot make that decision for them. The decision of whether to stay or leave must be made with the full knowledge of the consequences involved.

If you stay If you choose to stay in an abusive church, you have two options: fight for the truth or submit entirely. An abusive leadership will not allow you to pick your fights selectively, so it’s a commitment to fight for the truth (note: not fight against people) or resolution to surrender to the ways of the leaders. The option to fight is not one that is open to people who lack the stamina for a protracted battle or for people with thin skins and thinner theology. It is for the determined and mature believer only. Someone who knows how to fight error with scripture and who will not be intimidated by the posturing of leadership.

If you leave Those who choose to leave an abusive church will not find immediate relief. When David fled from Saul, he did so alone. It will be the same way if you choose to leave. No one will go with you and it is likely that friends and family still in the group will shut you out. This isolation is sometimes enough to cause people to stay in an abusive group. Furthermore, if you leave, then it is almost certain that gossip about you will circulate, at the highest levels even, gossip that is malicious and about which you can do nothing.

Is there any hope?
Recovery from spiritual abuse is a lengthy process. I am not a psychologist, but my own experience and research will lead me to believe that recovery is a sometimes lengthy process that will go through the following cycles or stages:

• Disbelief (in the initial stages one numbs out the awful reality of what is happening)
• Anger (deep and bitter anger directed at he abusers)
• Despair (a feeling of utter despair and hopelessness; people feel that recovery from the abuses they
have suffered will never occur)
• Acceptance of what has happened (an acceptance of the reality of the events, not an approval of what happened)
• Reexamination of core doctrines and beliefs (a healing process)
• Forgiveness and moving on (a decision one has to take, eventually)

My own experience was that the advice of friends etc., “put it behind you”, “don’t dwell on it” was sincere, but misguided. The person who experiences spiritual abuse has been grossly violated by people he trusted implicitly. That this has happened in the church, the one place supposed to be safe and secure, compounds the problem. The wounds inflicted reach so deep into one’s psyche that no band aid, no little prayer, no little sermon or comforting word is sufficient to undo the damage. Recover from this abuse is a process that depends on:

• A determination to recover, knowing that one has to forgive for recovery to happen
• A retelling of the story to someone who can listen empathetically. (This was absolutely vital in my case as I had to go through a process where the experience was validated, i.e. that I came to know that I did not make it up or imagine it (as my abusers told me I did!).

I am exceptionally reluctant to make the claim of PTSD for myself, but in my research, I came across the American Medical Association’s criteria for the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition is most commonly diagnosed in people who have suffered the effects of many other kinds of traumas. Listed below is an extract from a university sychology department’s web site on PTSD. I can however, identify with some of the intrusive and  voidant symptoms described in the web site article below:

While PTSD usually appears within three months of the trauma, sometimes it can surface months or even years later (APA, 1997). Psychiatrists categorize PTSD symptoms in four categories:

• Intrusive symptoms
• Avoidant symptoms
• Symptoms of hyperarousal
• Associated features

Intrusive Symptoms
The symptoms in this category are perhaps the most distinctive and readily identifiable. Here the traumatic event remains a dominating psychological experience that evokes panic, terror, grief, or despair as manifested in daytime fantasies, traumatic nightmares, and psychotic reenactments known as PTSD flashbacks (Friedman, 1996). These flashbacks are so strong that the individual thinks that he or she is actually experiencing the trauma again.

When a person has a severe flashback, he or she is in a dissociative state (APA, 1997). When this occurs, the individual may actually start to act out the incident as if he or she was experiencing the traumatic event again.

Avoidant Symptoms
Avoidance symptoms are characterized by emotional constriction or numbing—a need to void feelings, thoughts, and situation reminiscent of the trauma, a loss of normal emotional responses, or both (Long, 1997). These symptoms reflect the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional strategies used by PTSD patients to attempt to reduce their psychological response to the traumatic stimuli (Friedman, 1996).

Patients try to avoid all situations that might serve as stimuli for the traumatic event. When taken to the extreme, this may superficially resemble agoraphobia because the PTSD patient is afraid to leave the house for fear of confronting reminders of the traumatic event (Friedman. 1996).

Dissociation and psychogenic amnesia are included among avoidant/numbing symptoms by which individuals cut off conscious experience of trauma based on memories and feelings.

Because PTSD patients cannot tolerate string emotions of any kind, they perceive only the cognitive aspects of psychological experience and not the emotional aspects. This “psychic numbing” acts as an emotional anesthesia and makes meaningful interpersonal relationships extremely difficult (Friedman, 1996; Long, 1997)

Symptoms of Hyperarousal
Individuals with PTSD often act as though they were constantly threatened by the trauma that caused their illness (Long, 1997). These symptoms most closely resemble those seen in panic and generalized anxiety disorder (Friedman, 1996). Although some symptoms such as somnia and irritability are generic anxiety symptoms, hypervigilence and startle are more unique. The hypervigilence in PTSD may sometimes become so intense that it appears to be  simply paranoia. The startle reaction of PTSD patients also has neurobiological implications (see “Etiology” for more on the neurobiological causation of PTSD).

Associated Features
The person with PTSD may attempt to rid themselves of painful flashbacks, loneliness, and panic attacks by abusing alcohol and other drugs. These serve the purpose of blunting the patient’s emotions and helping them to forget their trauma. Related, a PTSD patient may also
show poor control over his impulses, increasing the risk of suicide (APA, 1997). (See  epidemiology” for statistics on drug abuse and suicide among individuals with PTSD).
************************************************************************************************************
Now that you have read my article, take this self quiz below. Be honest. Where you are unsure of an answer, give your potential dangerous group the benefit of the doubt and record a “no” vote.

The “Am I A Member of A Dangerous Religious Group?” Self Quiz
A group starts with two people. And two individuals can find themselves embroiled in many of the same fundamental destructive group dynamics that large organizations fall prey to. Are you “UNDER THE INFLUENCE” of a destructive group or belief system? Find out with this:

SELF QUIZ
• Does your group discourage doubts, criticism or ideas that differ from their belief system?
Yes____No____
• Do you tend to rationalize whatever the group does even when it goes against your sense of right and wrong?
Yes___ No___
• Do you often feel exhausted from lengthy group activities, meetings and projects?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have its own unique words, cliches, slogans, chants, prayers and doctrinal
phrases that reinforce the group viewpoint?
Yes___ No___
• Are doubts viewed as a lack of faith, dedication, commitment or disloyalty?
Yes___ No___
• Have “your thoughts” become “the enemy?”
Yes___ No___
• Do you often find yourself doing more and more things in the group or because of group peer pressure that you would not have done on your own?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group publicly humiliate or criticize members?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have a system of punishments and rewards for behavior?
Yes___ No___
• Group paranoia: Does your group obsessively think other groups or people with different beliefs are out to get them?
Yes___ No___
• Does the prospect of leaving your group seem scary, difficult?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel the need to leave in secret?
Yes___ No___
• Have you been told something bad might happen if you leave?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group/belief system think they have/are the only or highest truth, or have the solution for the world’s problems?
Yes___ No___
• Are your leader’s ideas or belief system considered beyond reproach or sacred?
Yes___ No___
• Do you follow a particular individual or belief system that requires unquestioning obedience and loyalty?
Yes___ No___
• Do members of your group feel specially chosen, superior, exclusive, elite?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel the need to save or convert others to your belief system or ideology?
Yes___ No___
• Is your group secretive to outsiders about its inner workings, teachings, activities or beliefs?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group equate purity and goodness to being in your group, and impurity or evil to those outside your group?
Yes___ No___
• Do you place your group’s mission or agenda above your own goals and ideals? Do group
interests come before your own interest
Yes___ No___
• Do you find yourself thinking in a we-they, us-versus-them mind set?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group/system have a clear outside enemy?
Yes___ No___
• Do you see less and less of your family and friends who do not belong to your group or who do not subscribe to your group’s belief system?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group use frequent public testimonials, confessions, or sharings that reinforce the
group’s mission or agenda?
Yes___ No___
• Is communication within, into and out of your group controlled or censored in any manner?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group criticize, shun, abandon or demean individuals who leave the group?
Yes___ No___
• Do members seek approval or get permission from group leader(s) for personal life choices?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel pressured to attend meetings, events, lectures, seminars? And do you feel guilty if you don’t attend?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel pressured to give a portion of your income to the group, or spend money on courses,
books or special projects?
Yes___ No___
• Are the group’s financial needs more important than your own economic well-being?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, belief, or sexual  orientation?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have a totalitarian structure: a strict, top-down centralized control?
Yes___ No___
Do you wonder if you have been in a destructive group?
Yes___ No___
Do you…
…have difficulty forming new friendships and intimate relationships?
Yes___ No___
…have low self-esteem, poor self-image or loss of identity?
Yes___ No___
…have difficulty making simple decisions and choices?
Yes___ No___
…often feel depressed, anxious and nervous?
Yes___ No___
…feel isolated, lonely, guilty, cynical?
Yes___ No___
…feel like you are just now growing up, becoming a mature adult?
Yes___ No___
…have short-term memory difficulties?
Yes___ No___
…feel you have nothing to believe in?
Yes___ No___
…often feel anger and rage towards the group?
Yes___ No___
…have nightmares or unpleasant dreams?
Yes___ No___
…find it difficult or impossible to stop mental or other group ritualistic practices?
Yes___ No___

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This quiz has no scientifically predetermined number of “yes” answers to indicate a distructive group. However, answering “yes” to any of the above questions means you may need to examine your group and its influence in your life in those areas.

This quiz is copyright 1998 by John D. Goldhammer and Prometheus Books References:

This paper was written in an attempt to collate together material that I had noted or come across in a number of sources. For more information on this topic, I suggest one look at the following books:

Marc Du Pont – Walking out of Spiritual Abuse
David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen – The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse
J. Lee Grady – Where’s The Fire? Rekindling the Blaze of Charismatic Renewal
Ken Blue – Healing Spiritual Abuse
Stephen Aterburn & Jack Felton – Toxic Faith
Hank Hanegraaf – Christianity in Crisis
Gene Edwards – The Tale of Three Kings

Some good web sites to begin researching this topic are:
http://www.spiritualabuse.org
http://www.discernment.org
http://www.wellspringretreat.org
http://www.testingthespirits.com
http://www.watchman.org

http://2ndchancecc.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/understandingspiritualabuse.pdf

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8 Characteristics of a Counterfeit Christian Church
By Eric Johnson

With the leaders of thousands of different religions and churches attempting to make their beliefs appear authentic, it behooves a person to carefully ascertain truth from error. In fact, many leaders of these faiths may call themselves “Christian” and even attempt to convert Christians into their churches.

After all, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” This is why John warned the believers in 1 John 4:1 to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:21 adds, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27 that they were “like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” How can we tell whether or not a particular religious leader (like the Pharisees) ought to be believed, especially when such a person may appear authentic and even claim to be Christian? Let’s then consider eight basic doctrinal characteristics of counterfeit groups.

1. Denial in the true nature of God
The rejection of fundamental Christian tenets such as the historical definition of God should be a major warning sign to any perceptive believer. Groups that deny the Christian viewpoint of the deity of Christ and the Trinity typically follow in point-by-point succession each of the other characteristics in this article. One example is The Way International, a group founded by Victor Paul Wierwille, (He once served as a former evangelical pastor. In fact, several cult leaders had their start in authentic Christian denominations and churches.) Wierwille’s view of God is Unitarian rather than Trinitarian as he denies that there are three persons in the Godhead. He also claims that Jesus was not God, teaching that the deity of Christ was not a Christian teaching for the Christian church’s first 300 years. This is a common (though false) assertion of many cult leaders. Because Wierwille and his church deny the very essence of what makes God who He is, this is a group to avoid.

2. Works-emphasis salvation
Although a counterfeit’s doctrine may include the idea that God’s grace is important in the role of salvation, the leader normally emphasizes the idea that “salvation” ultimately comes through one’s own efforts. Take the Hare Krishna devotees, for instance. These dedicated followers believe that they are in the middle stage of their reincarnation cycle. The way for a dedicated devotee to be born into the next level of existence is to deny himself on this earth while performing good works, including the repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra a total of 1,728 times a day. It may take a devotee who wakes up at 4 A.M. several hours a day to maintain this goal. Those who belong to such work-oriented groups are normally told that they can never know if their works are good enough to please God; instead, they are told to keep trying even harder.

3. The true church
Counterfeit Christian churches often make it a point to cast doubt and suspicion on other churches or denominations, with the leader oftentimes claiming that only his church is true. While many groups hold that the Christian churches do have partial truth, it is taught that full truth has somehow been lost and can now only be found in the “one true church.” This may involve utilizing Christian terminology while having a different meaning behind those particular words. An example is the Watchtower Society, also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This group, founded by Charles Taze Russell in the 19th century, teaches that those who belong to any church outside of “Jehovah’s” church are doomed to annihilation. Only those who belong to the Watchtower organization have a chance to attain “Paradise Earth.” This is why Jehovah’s Witnesses are adamant in sharing their faith door to door, even attempting to convert those who already attend Christian churches. The Jehovah’s Witnesses will often use words that sound reasonable to a nominal Christian (i.e. “Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses,” “salvation,” “Jesus Christ,” etc), but they are usually reluctant to tell potential converts that the meanings behind these words are completely different than what has been historically meant.

4. Authoritative leadership
A group where the leader(s) has an authoritative role, even to the extent that they say they speak for God, is another cause for concern. Such leaders claim to have special revelation with God, and their words hold special precedence over their followers. A classic example is Jim Jones, who led almost 1,000 followers to their deaths in the jungle of Guyana in 1978. When men in his charge killed Rep. Leo Ryan (D-CA), a congressman who was visiting “Jonestown” in response to complaints from the relatives of church members, Jones called for his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The majority of the people willingly followed his commands because they had come to accept his words as truthful and from God. Those who refused were shot. Trusting someone so much that you listen to any command, even to the point of moving to another country and then taking your own life, is something that God never intended.

5. Regimented giving requirement
Another heretical trait is when a church regulates the giving of its people or requires a certain amount of financial giving in order to receive certain privileges related to salvation. For example, the Church of Scientology teaches that people need to discover their true nature through a process called “auditing.” This is accomplished by “clearing Engrams” from one’s life. One Los Angeles Times article on Scientology religion estimated that it would cost a full “Operating Thetan 8” participant between $200,000 to $400,000 from the beginning of the lessons to the completion. Without these courses, the adherent is unable to clear himself of these unwanted “Engrams.” Using finances as a requirement to reach salvation goals is much different than what Jesus, Paul, and Peter preached.

6. Loss of salvation for leaving
Many counterfeit Christian churches insist that if a member decides to leave the group, for whatever reason, they jeopardize their salvation before God. One group with such a belief is the Boston Church of Christ, also known as the International Churches of Christ. The leaders of the ICC teach that there should only be one church in any particular city, which they say is the New Testament model. Members who decide to leave are considered spiritually lost and their salvation is considered negated. This is true even for those who leave because they decide to attend a Christian church outside the ICC network. Since the ICC does not recognize the baptisms of other denominations, and since the doctrine of baptism is considered a necessity in order to receive salvation, leaving the ICC negates the baptism that was given when the person joined the church. Holding a person’s salvation hostage in such a way is certainly not biblical.

7. Authority beyond the Bible
Although the Bible is sometimes utilized and even considered beneficial by a number of counterfeit groups, it is not considered as a completely authoritative scripture. Therefore, extrabiblical writings are necessary. Normally these scriptures are considered to have more authority than the dated Bible. The Christian Science religion is one example. Those who inquire into this religion are told that Mary Baker Eddy’s 1875 pantheistic book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is a “reference book for life,” which is needed by a person who hopes to discover “practical, spiritual answers for health and healing, security, and lasting relationships.” This book must be studied in order to ascertain full truth. When the Bible contradicts Eddy’s book, then the Bible is considered to be wrong or misunderstood.

8. Unique truths never before revealed
The idea that a hidden mystery or new truth is available through a particular church should be taken as a strong sign that this group is a counterfeit Christian religion. In addition, many such groups may change their doctrines over time. Christians believe that God has very clearly shown His truth through the pages of the Bible; therefore, new or fluctuating doctrine—especially that which contradicts the Bible—ought to be taken with a great deal of caution. The Unification Church (numerous front names include “Association of Families for Unification and World Peace” or “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification”) was founded by Korean “Rev.” Sun Myung Moon. He teaches that Jesus never fulfilled his mission. Therefore, Moon says that he was commissioned to finish the job that Jesus never finished. Moon’s followers (often known as “Moonies”) accept Moon as a Christ-like representative on earth whose teachings supersede the Bible. The Unification Church theology has evolved over time, and there may be some drastic changes once he dies in the very near future.

Conclusion
Not all counterfeits may be characterized by every one of these traits. However, a person should be cautious when considering a church that is marked by one or two of these characteristics, especially any of the first three in the list. Churches with three or more of the above characteristics ought to be avoided at all cost. In addition, there are some Christian churches that may not have doctrinal problems but are rather sociological abusers. For instance, some churches have controlling “discipleship” programs or church memberships with high levels of guilt or feelings of inadequacy. These types of groups also ought to be avoided. If you believe that your church has problems in either doctrinal or sociological areas, you would be wise not to get involved. If you are already a member, you need to consider leaving. As John 8:32-33 says, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

http://www.mrm.org/topics/introductory-issues/8-characteristics-a-counterfeit-christian-church

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How Does the Mormon Church Really View other Churches?

© Spotlight Ministries, Vincent McCann, 2004
www.spotlightministries.org.uk

Many Mormons often give the initial impression that Christian churches are viewed with a certain level of favouritism by the Mormon faith. Zealous young Mormon missionaries, when encountering potential proselytites into the Church, will often side step what Mormonism really thinks of other churches by saying something like: “there is truth in all religions”. However, the truth is that Mormonism views other churches as false religions void of all authority. In fairness to individual Mormons, it must be said that some do not really realise the extent to which the Mormon Church disagrees with Christian denominations, or, at the very least, not really thought through the implications of what they do know. The quotes in this article are all from Mormon sources.

The first reference is very important as it is from the Book of Mormon itself:

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God [i.e.. the Mormon Church] and the other is the church of the devil [i.e.. the Christian Church]; wherefore whosoever belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).
The following source is also very important as it is a key belief of the Mormon Church and is one of the first things that the Mormon missionaries will teach prospective converts. In the first vision, when Joseph Smith went out into the woods to pray to ask God which Christian denomination he should join, he explains that God allegedly commanded him:

“…I must join none of them [Christian Churches], for they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).
The popular Mormon book A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, by LeGrand Richards contains many derogatory remarks against the churches and their beliefs. Some of these are found in chapter 4 headed: “False Doctrines and Universal Apostasy”. Excerpts from this chapter follow below:

“Erroneous Teachings of Christian Churches…One erroneous teaching of many Christian churches is: By faith alone we are saved. This false doctrine would relieve man of the responsibility of his acts…” (p. 24).

“Again, there is the erroneous doctrine of predestination…In his effort to destroy truth, Satan could hardly have hoped to deceive men more effectively and completely than to take from them, through the teaching of such doctrines, a consciousness of their own responsibilities.” (p. 25).

“There is a also the false teaching of one heaven and one hell…” (p. 25).
In chapter 2 of the same book, the God of the Christian Church is mocked under the heading “The Strange Gods of Christendom”. Page 13 likens the Christian God to the pagan ‘gods’ (plural!) that Moses and the Israelites met in the desert:

“These are but typical examples of the gods worshipped by Christian churches in the nineteenth century. Here are gods that Moses told the Israelites they would encounter as they scattered among the nations – gods “which neither see, not hear, not eat, or smell.” (p. 13).
Other similar quotes from Mormon sources follow below:

“…orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116).

“…the God whom the ‘Christians’ worship is a being of their own creation…” (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses 23:243).

“The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171).

“The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73).

“What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute best.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).

“What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing…Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).

“Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.177).

“…brother Joseph B. Nobles once told a Methodist priest, after hearing him describe his god, that the god they worshiped was the “Mormon’s” Devil-a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts and passions.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:331).

“The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….” (Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle, “Divine Authenticity,” no.6, p.84).

“…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.” (The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60).

“…all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord’s supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255).

“Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornication’s and wickedness.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p.255).

“Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176).
The Only True Church?


The next few quotes demonstrate how the Mormon Church sees itself as the “only true Church”, with membership being essential to salvation. By implication, in the eyes of Mormonism, all other churches must therefore be false:

“We must come unto Christ by being baptized into his Church. Only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can we find all the truths that will help us return to our Father in Heaven. Only in the true Church of Christ can we find the authority to perform the necessary gospel ordinances.” (The Restoration: Study Guide, p. 5).

“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foudation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth…” (Doctrines and Covenants 1:30)

“There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670).

“The Lord provided that salvation should come through his gospel, functioning through his church…But is there such a church?…Is there such a church upon the earth? Until 1830 there was not. It had been lost through the falling away we have described in this pamphlet. In 1830 the Almighty restored his church to earth again.” (Which Church is Right?, p. 17).

“This is the only true church …This is not a church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. There are churches of men all over the land and they have great cathedrals, synagogues, and other houses of worship running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are churches of men. They teach the doctrines of men, combined with the philosophies and ethics and other ideas and ideals that men have partly developed and partly found in sacred places and interpreted for themselves” (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.421)

 
Attack on the Bible

 
Another way that the Mormon Churchs seeks to undermine the beliefs of Christianity is to attempt to take away its authority by spreading doubt about the Bible, the source of doctrine for the Church:

“The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity – manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it alone stumble and are confused…” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Come: Hear the Voice of the Lord,” The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).

“What shall we say then, concerning the Bible’s being a sufficient guide? Can we rely upon it in its present known corrupted state, as being a faithful record of God’s word? We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to our times,… What few have come down to our day have been mutilated, changed, and corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree….Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment , suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 47).

“The Church [the LDS Church] reveres and respects the Bible, but recognises that it is not a complete nor entirely accurate record…” (Holy Bible, King James Version. Located at the back of the LDS KJV of the Bible, p. 624).

“the various versions of the Bible do not accurately record or perfectly preserve the words, thoughts, and interests of the original inspired authors.” (B.R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p.383.).

“The gathering together of the few scattered manuscripts which compose what is now termed the Bible, was the work of uninspired man…Among the vast number of professedly inspired manuscripts, scattered through the world, man, poor, weak, ignorant man, assumed the authority to select a few, which, according to his frail judgment, he believed or conjectured were of God, but the balance not agreeing, perhaps, with his peculiar notions of divine inspiration, were rejected as spurious. The few, selected from the abundance, were finally arranged into one volume, divided into chapter and verse, and named the Bible.” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 3).

“Through the Prophet Joseph Smith,…we learn that the Bible does not contain all that God revealed anciently, nor did it arrive in our day without inaccuracies.” (Kent P. Jackson, Ensign, 2/95, p. 63).

“…the Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable, …But with the Bible it was not and is not so….it was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization, founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13).

http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/morm&churches.htm

 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cults, Apologetics and Christian Discernment
by Rev. Rafael Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries

  • Questions We’ve Been Asked
    What Do You Mean By Christian “Apologetics?”
    What Does Christianity Need Defending Against?
    So what is “Christian orthodoxy” and “heresy”? Why is this such a big deal?
    Why do Christians label others who don’t believe as they do “heretics”?
    What is Christian “discernment”?
    But we are not to judge anyone! Jesus said “judge not”, didn’t he?
    What are cultic groups? What do they have to do with this?
    How does a cult’s control of one’s thoughts psychologically harm anyone?
    What is “countercult ministry”?
    How did countercult work begin?
    Does the Bible say anything about cults?
    Shouldn’t defending the faith be left only to “the experts”?

 

What Do You Mean By Christian “Apologetics?”


The term “apologetics” is drawn from a Biblical Greek word “apologia”, and doesn’t mean one’s “apology” for being a Christian! The world literally means to give a reasoned defense, a verbal speech in defense of oneself. Paul the apostle had to resort frequently to this when facing down the rebellious Corinthian Christians who challenged his authority (1 Cor. 9:3): “Mine answer (or apologia) to them that do examine me is this ..” An apologetic is a verbal defense, an explanation for one’s beliefs and practices. Therefore, Christian “apologetics” is the process of defending the claims and teachings of Christianity.

As Edward John Carnell once put it “Apologetics is that branch of Christian theology which answers the question, Is Christianity rationally defensible?” (emphasis author). Christian apologetics goes beyond simple proclamation of Biblical truths, whether in traditional preaching or systematic theology: it not only seeks to proclaim these truths but provide the answers to whoever might raise critical objections to the Christian faith. Carnell also goes on to explain the two fold purpose of apologetics: “First, to bring glory to God. Just as we would defend the words of our earthly father, so we defend the words of our Father in heaven. Secondly, to remove from critics any excuse for not repenting before God. Men who refuse Christ because of presumed ‘logical errors’ in Christianity are men with a self-righteousness in the area of knowledge. They are resting on props which must be pulled away.”

Christian apologetics, then, is a balanced and reasoned defense of the truth claims of orthodox and historically Biblical Christian faith and practices, with the aim of glorifying God and bringing those objecting to or distorting the faith to see not only their error but their need of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Does Christianity Need Defending Against?


More than most Christians scarcely are aware of. There are innumerable challenges to Christianity today that too many Christians fail to recognize as such, from both philosophical and spiritual perspectives of every persuasion. From the pop philosophical front, certainly the most aggressive of these is the cultural conflict instigated by secular humanism, active in virtually every social institution around. This challenger makes the unstable value system of man “the measure of all things,” rejecting belief in divinely revealed moral absolutes as mythology. Another age-old challenge is the popular stepchild to secular humanism, that of relativism, where it is said that one belief system is no better than another, and that absolute truth is a fluid concept that isn’t necessarily universally binding. Still another one of the offspring of purely human reasoning is syncretism, which advances a “pick and choose” approach allowing one to create their own belief system, based entirely upon their own preferences to “follow their own path” (no matter how contradictory and flawed).

From the spiritual dimension, the emergence of thousands of cultic organizations with belief systems directly attacking the Christian faith has sharply risen over the past hundred years. Once found only in their Third World homelands, the allure and attraction of “world religions” such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have found many disciples in the West, let alone the multiple billions they have traditionally had in the past. A full scale revival of ancient pagan spiritualities from across the globe is seen in the networking of New Age and occultic movements. And along with these phenomena there has also been a simultaneous rise of heretical and divisive movements within the Christian Church itself that have helped to contribute to the general doctrinal and practical erosion of Christian orthodoxy and the revival of heresy.

Despite their sheer diversity, however, there is one common element found among them all: they all boldly set forth truth claims which oppose the exclusive claims of the Christian Gospel. These ideologies all reject at one level or another the Christian faith by establishing rival belief systems that, from Atheism to Zorastrianism, stake their own claims to absolute truth, their own divine revelation of lost knowledge. Ultimately, these spiritual and philosophical perspectives all defy and deny the historical Jesus, the Biblical Good News, and the genuine work of the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 11:4). These counterfeits through “good words and fair speeches” (Romans 16:18) have overthrown the Christian faith among many for centuries “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8). Throughout the Christian New Testament, Jesus and the apostles constantly warned that a time of great spiritual deceptive season prior to His return would come (Matthew 24:4, Acts 20:28-31, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Jude 3-4). These closing hours of the twentieth century certainly, in our opinion, seem to be the fulfillment of these sobering admonitions.

So what is “Christian orthodoxy” and “heresy”? Why is this such a big deal?


We cannot overemphasize the supreme and critical need for understanding the Difference between what is called Christian orthodoxy and that which is called heresy. Our understanding of what is spiritually and morally “right” and what is spiritually and morally “wrong” will obviously affect how we live and relate to this world – as well as the next. Christian orthodoxy (the word literally means “right teaching” or “right doctrine”) provides for us those established and historical principles that define the central truths of the Christian faith. Robert Bowman concisely defines orthodoxy as “that body of essential teachings which must be held by all those who would be accepted as Christians.” Such foundational beliefs are the basis of a consistent, balanced and Biblically authenticated spirituality that can be truly called “Christian”. Without them, it would be impossible to recognize what Christianity is and what it stands for. The Christian faith – as taught by Christ and preserved by the Spirit of God through apostolic teaching found in the Word of God – has in fact been preserved through the centuries, by the grace of God despite the diversity and regrettable division that has occurred in the Church since the time of Christ.

Heresy, on the other hand, in the clearest sense of the word when contrasted against Christian orthodoxy, is a description of a body of teaching (and the group or movement that follows it) that contradicts these Christian essentials. “‘Heresy’ came to be used to mean a separation or split resulting from a false faith (1 Cor. 11:19; Gala. 5:20),” wrote Harold O.J. Brown. It “designate(s) either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church .. something that seemed to undercut the very basis of Christian existence.” A heretic is one who believes and advocates a heresy, which is a teaching “which directly opposes the essentials of the Christian faith, so that true Christians must divide themselves from those who hold it,” as Bowman himself describes it.

So the fruit of heresy is not the secondary issues that Christians have often disagreed upon. It is the establishment of doctrinal positions that deny the orthodox Christian teachings that have been preserved since the time of the apostles. It almost always creates factions within the church itself that aggressively embrace the position in an objectionable and divisive fashion. Heresy destroys and disrupts the legitimate Christian unity of the faith that orthodoxy has established. For this reason, Christians do not have an option to simply sit on the fence with a “live and let live” attitude, as the apostle Jude made it soberingly clear:
“.. When I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation (the salvation we share – NIV, a reference to the orthodox understanding of Christian teaching), it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men slipped in unawares .. ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Why do Christians label others who don’t believe as they do “heretics”?


Christians are rightly justified in identifying heretics when necessary, but sadly, throughout church history, there have been far too many instances in which they did so far too rashly, quickly, and wrongfully. Most of the time when the latter occurred it was because they completely misunderstand the Biblical definition of what heresy is as we have just seen. While doctrinal disagreement among Christians has gone on for centuries, and perhaps always will, these disagreements have, for the most part, been disputes over non-essential matters such as the mode of baptism and the form of church government. Such disagreements are not genuine examples of “heresy”, despite the regrettable instances in which the same disputing parties often called one another “heretics.” Indeed, the underlying unity of the Faith has always provided for them true fellowship as fellow believers and disciples of Jesus Christ (whether they chose to accept and act upon this has been a reproach on those naming themselves Christians), despite their spiritual diversity.
Such a wondrous unity as forged by the Word and Spirit of God does exist, even if it not as universally accepted or recognized as it should be by disputing Christians. Calvinists and Armenians are in agreement over the revelation of God’s nature in Christ by the Spirit as a Holy Trinity, Baptists and Pentecostals universally agree that Jesus physically resurrected after His death for our sins, and despite the serious differences between them, even Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants would agree that Jesus Christ – in the fulfillment of ancient prophecies – was born of a virgin, died for the sins of the world, rose again and will someday return to judge the living and the dead.

On the other hand, however, when Christians do correctly identify (as this article and web site has) certain beliefs and teachers as heretical and say as such in full view of the pluralistic age we live in, trouble usually begins. There comes a secular demand for “tolerance” at the expense of the exclusive distinctives that Christianity has always upheld and – shockingly – equally strident cries for respecting “diversity” from those within the “Church” itself. Our American value of toleration, as vital as it has been, has been too long misapplied in the defense of destructive doctrines and the dismissal of Christians committed to an orthodox and Biblically-based Christian spirituality as witch-hunting “fundies” and heresy-hunting “critics”. This perspective on “toleration” has widely and adversely affected the Western Christian church and the unchurched world and has done much to advance the cause of deceptive and antichristian spirituality and philosophy today. Despite the politically incorrect position that absolute truth does exist, Christian apologists will continue to say as such, and identify it by contrasting Christian orthodoxy to ungodly heresy. If this involves identifying by name the offending parties, it still must be done, as the first-century apostles often did themselves, to preserve truth and expose error that it might be corrected. (1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 1:10-14, 3 John 9, 2 Timothy 1:15, 2:17-18, 4:14-16).

What is Christian “discernment”?


Christian discernment is the careful process of sorting through truth claims to arrive at the clearest possible decision concerning their trustworthiness and value as it relates to Christian orthodoxy. Such discernment reveals, clarifies and proclaims truth and exposes, examines and rejects error. This involves the Christian fully, as it is a personal commitment to the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 as a necessary part of Christian growth in grace (or as verse 23 points out sanctification). The word “discern” appears in Matthew 16:3 (diakrino, in the Greek – denoting “to separate thoroughly”), Hebrews 5:14 (diakrisis, again in the original Greek – meaning “an estimation; a decision”) and in Ezekiel 44:23 (yada, this time in the Old Testament Hebrew – describing “to know, comprehend; to make known”). The clear sense of the three terms is that discernment necessarily involves making value judgments between claim (a) and claim (b) as needed so as to reveal by examination which is right or wrong, or somwhere in the middle. To make such judgments involves the process of examining the claims by an objective standard, and for the orthodox Christian, such a standard exists only in the Word of God ( 2 Timothy 3:16).

Discernment is a Bible mandate that cannot be ignored by Christians claiming to walk in the light of the Faith. Hebrews 5:14 points out that spiritually mature believers will regularly and routinely “make decisions” or value judgments between the principles of good and evil. Ezekiel 44:23 shows us that spiritually mature leaders will teach others how to accurately recognize the difference between the holy and the unholy. And Malachi 3:18 clearly reveals that spiritually mature people will be actively involved in the process of discernment on a continual basis. Discernment, according to the Bible is a critical part of Christian life.

But we are not to judge anyone! Jesus said “judge not”, didn’t he?


Again, we would have to point out that this is a misinterpretation of what Jesus meant regarding judgment. The verse this is often cited from is found in Luke 6:37: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.” What did Jesus mean here? Was he outright forbidding anyone to practice the Biblically based kind of discernment as we have just described it?
Look at John 7:24 for the answer: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Here, Jesus commands His followers to not make snap judgments based solely upon a shallow acceptance of what one sees “on the surface” or the image being projected by the subject being considered! This is the very mistake that virtually all those who criticize discernment as “heresy hunting” commit when demanding that we “not judge”. Indeed, this is a direct command byJesus Christ Himself phrased as a nonnegotiable imperative that would be an actual sin to disobey! What Jesus is demanding here is that we don’t do the sloppy and superficial “checking out” of questionable things that we have for too many years done; rather, he goes on to command that godly judgment be actually done in a holy and sober manner. Christian apologists strive to base their ministry on that principle and that one alone, although admittedly, that has not been the case in many instances.

In Revelation 2:2, we actually find Jesus commending the Ephesian church for trying impostors who posed as apostles and were found to be “liars.” Such an examination coudn’t take place without a) a Scriptural mandate to “test all things”, b) moral courage, and c) just plain obedience for the sake of the truth. Righteous judgment was done, and the Ephesian church was preserved from one deadly aspect of error, if not all. In this case, Jesus showed how “questioning authority” was a right thing to do. This was a church that “judged” but “judged” correctly, to the glory of God. So it is superficial judgment based upon shallow decision making that is actually forbidden by Christ, not the process of sound judgment itself!

What are cultic groups? What do they have to do with this?


Debate continues over this question, especially when the contemporary sentiment that “one man’s religion is another man’s cult” is continually circulated by many (not without some merit, but with a great deal of intentional lack of discernment). From an orthodox Christian viewpoint that many, if not all Christian apologists would agree with, a cult is a group of people who follow one man or the group’s collective wisdom, teachings and practices that, when compared with orthodox Christian doctrine always contradict it. In one way or another, cultic groups also exalt their particular belief system as the only exclusive way to fulfillment, knowledge of the divine and one’s salvation – which no one else can offer. Many cults claim that their authority is derived directly from God or Bible and are the only group anywhere who really know God or are interpreting Scripture correctly (hence the rationale for some countercult workers calling some groups “Bible based”). Yet ultimately, once examined, a questionable group’s doctrines will always deny orthodox Biblical truth in one way, shape or form.

There are deeper issues that go beyond the religious belief systems many cultic groups hold. Cultism – relationship to cults themselves is – a very much a way of life, a way of being that is far more profoundly part of what it means to be human and humanly vulnerable to those we interact with. In his book Cult Proofing Your Kids, Dr. Paul Martin, who directs a recovery center for ex-cultists, observes that the definition of a cult involves more than simply theological definition: he observes that a cult is

“a group that uses methods that deprive individuals of their ability to make a free choice. They use deceitful recruitment techniques, they deceptively and destructively use the devotees’ energies, and they capture the devotee’s minds .. to advance the goals of the group leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. .. Cults can include groups and organizations that are not typically viewed as cults”

Michael Langone defines cults in the following terms:
“A cult is a group or movement that, to a significant degree, (a) exhibits great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, (b) uses a thought-reform program to persuade, controland socialize members (i.e. to integrate them into the group’s unique pattern of relationships, beliefs, values, and practices), (c) systematically induces states of psychological dependency in members, (d) exploits members to advance the leadership’s goals, and (e) causes psychological harm to members, their families and the community.”

Note that these definitions of cults are focus more closely on the systematic and intentional abuse of power and authority that members must submit to, and not necessarily upon their doctrinal teaching or practice. The key issue lies in the deliberate control of members’ lives through manipulative patterns of group behavior. Most people will not immediately recognize any of the inherent dangers of heretical and false teachings of cultic groups, yet one thing that never fails to escape the notice of any observer is how radically someone recruited by a cult (even if it is not seen as such) will be affected by the group’s influence and social circles. Designed to indoctrinate members and force a relative or absolute submission to the group’s leaders, cultic circles of influence use them to literally transform people through psychologically abusive means that the propective member is completely unaware of.

We contend that the dogmatic false teachings and practices that cult groups in conjunction with this powerful social aspect of cultic influence provide a potent and destructive influence in the lives of those submitting to it. Groups providing both of these are what we would describe as cultic groups, no matter their respectability, influence and social presence.

How does a cult’s control of one’s thoughts psychologically harm anyone


As we can see, cults involve themselves with more than just a novel spirituality or philosophical speculation. They cunningly utilize observable and predictable practices that attempt to manipulate their members by control of behavior and thought. This is what is known as cultic mind control, a term used to describe the socially applied pressures placed upon members by their cult leaders to achieve their total submission and conformity to the group’s purposes. And because such blatantly authoritarian pressures have been exerted by those in positions of authority both within and without purely religious groups (such as political leaders, radical terrorists, business executives, therapists, dysfunctional families and relationships, and others), we can see that cultism and cults are far more widespread in society than we care to believe.

We must make an important qualification here: cult mind control doesn’t imply that the controlled cult member has no ability to think for themselves, but it does assert that this capacity for independent thought is largely, if not entirely, suspended through their time of indoctrination and socialization into the group. The choices to submit to the authority of the group are indeed their own, but the choices are usually based upon their ignorance of the group’s agenda of misinformation and their seriously impaired ability to objectively examine it . The process is gradual, yet relentless. Once having made the decision to relinquish their faculties of independent and critical thinking, step by step, the member will effectivly lose their ability to make their own decisions relevant to the spirituality and/or philosophy they believe is beneficial to them. Steve Hassan, a cult recovery specialist, observes helpfully that cultic mind control seeks “to undermine an individual’s integrity in making his own decisions. The esssence of mind control is that it encourages dependence and conformity, and discourages autonomy and individuality (emphasis author’s).” In many instances they are led to believe by cultic leaders that such a loss of autonomy is necessary for their personal good, and that any objective, independent thought concerning their personal lifestyle that conflicts with the group belief system is actually sinful or traitorous. When the only tool a person has to discern with – a free mind – is so completely and voluntarily hedged in under such a belief, mind control is inevitable.

The issue of cult mind control and psychological manipulation is a point of controversy among many in the countercult community. Some feel that such a coercive dynamic as cult mind control does not exist. However, we believe that many cultists have indeed been deceived by false cult authorities and then bound by mind control techniques that utilize implanted phobias, socialized conditioning and deceptive propaganda to coerce, deceive and manipulate prospective converts and the “true believer” into blindly following the authority. Independent thinking is suspended, and the control of reason and emotion is firmly conditioned by intensive interaction with this cult authority. It is our contention that the central task of the Christian countercult worker is to, by the leading of the Spirit, help the deceived to reactivate their faculties of critical thought in relation to the group or philosophy they have been deceived by – and to see that their authority they have been trusting in is both unreliable and erroneous. Cult authority must be sensitively, yet deliberately undermined. We concede that this is a controversial topic and one that is still being widely debated, yet we feel that this website and its articles will attempt to adequately address it as time permits.

A Christian response to this real issue must be intentional and forthright. The countercult worker must be committed to a continuous process of learning, of education to learn the ins and outs of countercult strategy that deals with this crucial issue of the cult mindset. While a Christian perspective certainly takes into consideration the very real influences of the demonic, the plain truth is that the cult recruitment process that lures and indoctrinates prospective members of cultic groups is a thoroughly human one involving manipulation based upon social pressures. From start to finish, the influences of group dynamics and thought control are incredibly subtle, almost indistinguishable from normal human behavior. The human tendency to seek companionship, acceptance by authority and a desire for purpose and community in life plays perfectly into the hands of cultic groups who, knowing these needs, will unhesitatingly exploit them to make converts. It is unethical, coercive and certain dishonest to say the least. But the cult recruiter generally doesn’t hesitate to round a few corners for “the truth”, and half of the problem is understanding that there is a process of mind control at work that underlies, in many instances, the false and heretical doctrine that they cult recruit has chosen to embrace, at the peril of body, mind and spirit.

What Is “Countercult Ministry”?


The explicitly Christian countercult ministry is a direct, deliberate and Spirit-led response to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Body against last-days deception. Jesus, when asked in Matthew 24:4 about when to know when the end of the world and His coming would be at hand, said that, first of all, that His people must “take heed, lest no man deceive you.” Deception is a calling card of the last days, and the Bible has prophetically and imperatively warned us to be aware of this in the most explicit manner possible. Jude 3-4 calls us to action for the love of deceived souls, and 1 Peter 3:15 is a command for all Christians to be ready to answer all who question our faith. If we have received the truth of the Gospel, then we must also be ready to contend for it, as 2 Timothy 2:24-26 teaches. The alternative is damning deception that divides families, and destroys life in the name of God.

It must be repeated for emphasis that the Scriptures have made it crystal clear that the prophecies about the end of all things and Christ’s Second Coming would be foreshadowed by a tidal wave onslaught of deception. The explosive proliferation of unorthodox and aberrant religious activity in the past thirty years is , we feel, the fulfillment of this stark and sobering prophetic warning by Christ. Therein lies the critical need for a never ending vigilance against the onslaught of heresy and a never ending readiness to provide a reasoned response to its seductive advances – through upholding Christian orthodoxy and engaging in countercult work.

Countercult ministry is a militant response to this challenge of Satan. Dr. Gordon Lewis’ remarks on this are sobering and to the point as he sought to highlight the high stakes involved:

” .. we are led to specialize in delivering people from counterfeit religions. .. we seek to expose (1) deceptive teachings, (2) immoral ways of life, and (3) oppressive ministerial, missiological tactics, like heavy-handed shepherding of every detail of life in religions, cults and the occult. But these are two-edged swords that have a way of cutting against aberrant Christians as well as cultists. Our battle is not only against the religious oppressors of this dark world, but also against ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph. 6:12) .. Among the evils we deplore in the cults are abuses of human rights, destructive violence, institutionalized violence, and the undermining of the family and the inhuman exploitation of people in the cults. We must deplore those evils even more if they occur among missionaries to the cults or aberrant Christian groups.”

“Lone Ranger” heroes will not survive long in this atmosphere, and the high turnover of countercult workers and ministry is proof of this. Only within the context of the Christian community of faith can such a ministry be conducted, and only among Christians united together can countercult workers “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” It is nothing less than warfare in the spirit, a conflict that is invisible to all but discerning believers. It is a contention for the truth of the Gospel in the face of false prophets and teachers, to both evangelize and restore the deceived and to edify and defend the Body. We contend there are few more demanding ministries and disciplines required than for the countercult ministry. And it goes way beyond simple argumentation with cult missionaries: the countercult ministry requires an integrative approach that can easily demand of the countercult worker a dear price: the patience of the pastor, the aptitude of the teacher, the zeal of the evangelist, the discernment of the prophet, and the mission mindedness of the apostle.

How did countercult work begin?


Cultic groups have circulated throughout Western civilization and the United States for generations representing themselves as organizations claiming to speak exclusively for God and who have institutionalized the free usage of mind control, deceptive claims, unscrupulous and unethical practices, and outright religious abuse. Groups such as these have left in their wake many destroyed marriages, disrupted families, and suicidal children along with the untold amounts of societal destablization and ruin such activity would bring.

But in the United States the same First Amendment freedoms that have given cult groups the means to brazenly carry on their destructive work also guarantee that voices of dissent can also be heard – and organized. Hence the rise of the countercult movement, a movement prefigured by the isolated protests of a few brave men and women in the spiritual wilderness of the last two centuries. These were primarily Christian clergy, deistic rationalists and Jewish rabbis who recognized the seductive lure of spiritual manipulation and tried to sound an alarm, but were largely ignored. With the rise of the cultural turmoil of the 1960’s in post-Christian Western society came a tremendous amount of growth in cult group formation and activity. Concerted efforts to counter these organizations began to be manifest in the development of cult deprogramming (through the efforts of men like Ted Patrick and Patrick Ryan) and grass roots formation of support groups for the families of cult members. These hapless and bewildered families saw loved ones change into mindless individuals and disappear into cult communities for good, and could find help nowhere else.

Research by Robert J. Lifton, Leon Festinger, Eric Hoffer and others concerning thought reform, social psychology and the powerful influence of group dynamics gave great insight into the power of the cult, and the draw of the mass movement. Organizations that opposed groups such as the Unification Church, the Children of God and the ISKCON movement began to appear and actively network with one another. With the high profile mass suicide of the People’s Temple cult in Guyana in the late 1970’s, the effort gained tremendous impetus. The now defunct Cult Awareness Network became a major clearinghouse of information and support of countercult activity at that time. Today, this largely secular movement is headed up by organizations such as the American Family Foundation, ReFocus, and individual professional counselors, researchers, and university professors. The continuing influence of deceptive religious groups – aside from the well known debacles at Rajneeshpuram and the Heaven’s Gate group, among others – in the more mundane circles of life have required their presence.

About the same time that purely secular efforts to oppose cult groups began, the religious community began to mount its own response, largely if not entirely along Jewish and Christian lines. The Christian faith was being seen as directly challenged by cultic innovations, and the early Church’s ancient tactic of the apologia, or reasoned defense of the Faith, enjoyed a long overdue rediscovery by her spiritual heirs. Classical Christian apologetical training became the foundation for countercult work, and drawing on the work of pioneering Christian researchers such as J.K. Van Baalen, Walter Martin, and John Gerstner, individual Christian groups and communities started to explore the culture of deception that cult groups firmly established to reach out to them in actual mission work. These largely Evangelical and Jewish efforts proceeded from the perception that these groups were not merely “competitors” but were spiritually destructive influences that defied orthodoxy, targeted new converts and the established faithful who were ignorant of the dangers. Many of the Christian workers involved in this work also began to network and organize, some of them being actual ex members of various cult groups themselves who felt a deeper sense of personal ownership in the mission aspect. Helplines and exit counseling, as in secular efforts, became part of the arsenal used in the silent conflict. Christian ministries such as the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, CARIS, Watchman Fellowship and the Christian Research Institute came into being in the 1970’s and have been the Christian Church’s major resource on spiritual deception since then.

In the past twenty years, Evangelical publishing houses have produced many long needed resources and books on the cult problem that have helped sensitize the Church to its challenge. The Church of God (Cleveland) Lay Affairs Office-created curricula on cult outreach and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Interfaith Witness Office were perhaps the first major attempts by the Church to professionalize a response to spiritual deception, and the creation of the Evangelical Ministries To New Religions coalition (EMNR), an organization dedicated to advancing Christian mission among cultic groups, is more evidence that countercult work is being recognized for the bona fide ministry that is has always been. A growing but established presence of Christian counter cult and apologetics ministries on the World Wide Web continues to escalate. With the rise of a new pagan “spirituality” in our post-Christian society, it has become obvious that the defense of the Faith can no longer be ignored. But whether the Church as a whole will ever embrace such a Biblical mandate as it once did remains to be seen, and personally, we are concerned that present trends seem to make that possibility more and more remote.

Does the Bible say anything about cults?


While there would not appear to be much in common between the ancient Near East as described in the Bible and today’s modern world, the descriptions and activities of certain religious and philosophical factions and leaders of that day give great insight into how cultic groups operate. Some of the most revealing passages are about the apostacy of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:17, 28-29), the spiritual abuse of its people by its leaders (Ezekiel 34:1-10), the elitist pride of the Pharisees (John 9:28-34), and the nature of false teachings themselves (Colossians 2:8, 18-23, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Peter 2:9-10, 12-19). Time will not permit us to bring forth the many other Scriptural allusions we are referring to, but these glimpses of divisive deception and abuse (along with the others we have offered in these articles) are a good introduction.

From a purely Biblical perspective, 2 Corinthians 11:4 gives us the clearest and most concise description of how cults may be discerned. False teachings, the apostle Paul warned here, will introduce three major errors to the unsuspecting in the name of Christianity. First they will preach their own determination of who Jesus Christ is, denying his Biblically revealed identity as God the Son and exchanging it with another. They’ll point to “another Jesus.” Secondly, cult teachers will proclaim a “gospel message” that is ultimately is a message of works-centered salvation, in sharpest contrast to the Good News of saving grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). They’ll preach “another gospel.” Thirdly, the revealed spiritual nature of the work of the cult claims to be, but actually is not, inspired by God the Spirit. Instead, a chilling reference is made to spiritual entities who lend tremendous spiritual power to their natural human puppets to preach deceptive gospels. They’ll be empowered by “another spirit.” This is the work of demonic agents in allegiance with Satan, the opposer of God throughout history.

Shouldn’t defending the faith be left only to “the experts”?


This is a question that stems from similar lines of inquiry concerning the calling to Christian ministry that are asked by many Christians today, as in the past. This is a vital and fundamental question: how we answer it will define just how we will approach the uneasy, fragile, almost antagonistic ties that the Church seems to have with those willing to defend the faith, choosing many times to castigate them as judgmental “heresy hunters” and “critics” who tear down and criticize needlessly.

We hold that a balanced understanding of the Scriptures we’ve reviewed earlier is that the corporate Body of Christ has been specifically charged to earnestly contend for the faith, to provide an answer for every man who wants an answer concerning their questions of our faith, and to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all mankind. That the Body has historically not done a good job of this is the understatement of the age. It is all too obvious that the Church has been, for the most part in the last two millennia, been laboring under spiritual malaise, division, or outright carnal ignorance. At one time in her past, however, we can see that this was not always the case, at least in comparison to the magnitude of apathy, ignorance and prejudice of today’s Church. Amidst the backlash, affliction and chaos that the first great persecution wrought upon the early Church in Acts 8, we find the report of Luke, the ever careful historian that he was, recording that “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4 NIV). Despite the loss of apostolic leadership, daily worship, and house church fellowship, the believers who were dispersed throughout Israel fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel.

This presupposes a degree of spiritual maturity that the entire early Church was to emulate: if this was a reality in the early Church, then we would contend that the apostolic admonitions of Jude and Peter for the church to collectively defend the faith are to be considered as binding today for all Christians. Period. Although the Church today is nowhere near that level of maturity (really, how many churches can be said to be – to a man, woman and child – be preaching “as they go” in this backslidden age? cf. Mt. 28:19) we are still, in my opinion, not relieved of that responsibility. Therefore, we cannot consider countercult ministry as something reserved only for a few “called” to it, and the Spirit of God still awaits the Body of Christ to embrace this mandate (as well as the countless other charges to defend the widow, to feed the hungry, to receive strangers into one’s home, and generally to be real salt and light).

Thank God for those who have responded to His calling in this area of countercult and discernment ministry, and have provided such profound contributions and examples in tackling the challenge, brothers like Craig Branch, Charles Beach, John Farkas and Jerry Yamamoto, and sisters like Jobi Eaves, Angela Goedelman, Lora Burton and Joy Veinot. Still, we do not feel that it is the province only of the “enlightened” countercult worker alone in the defense of the Faith. We are all called to this sacred task. There is no Greek to parse or creedal convention to recite that can possibly refute this simple truth (for the sake of seeming “objective”), mainly because such a comforting and conscience numbing option that could be used to dismiss such a declaration is nonexistent.

While the world, the flesh and the devil continue to gnaw away at the old landmarks and the ancient foundations of the Faith, we have absolutely no excuse for ignoring its’ commands to demonstrate our Christian maturity through discernment, to try all things, and to earnestly contend for its very existence. Only our own spiritual hardness of heart and lack of spiritual passion for what is True and Right in the sight of the Father keep us paralyzed. In the sight of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the terrifying depravity of our fallen world, and the continued backslidings of an increasingly nominal and almost irrelevant “church,” such an attitude is sheer spiritual folly that only adds religious Novocain to our already dulled senses. A falling away indeed is at work here.

So, assuming we are correct, we feel justified in making this final charge directly to all of those reading this article who would call themselves Christians: what will you do with what you now know? Will you lay aside this article considering this to have been a fascinating intellectual exercise about last days perils that, however interesting, has only the most fleeting relevance to your “real life”? Do you now conclude this with an amazement that will last just long enough until the next thing catches your bored eye? Or will have you seen a universe of ministry that has barely been charted by the Church? Will you have heard the mandate by our Lord as given through apostolic admonition? And will you earnestly seek the Lord for what He would have you to do in this hidden and silent war of the ages, the conflict between truth and error?

We realize this may sound as if we are coming on too strong, as if we are perhaps being too dramatic and grave, even fanatical. Strong passions are indeed unsettling. Yet after several years of beholding on the front lines the human cost of deception, we don’t think it is possible to overstate the case to people who have never been in the arena, or even aware of the warfare that routinely claims many innocents in the lines of strange cultic fire. Generation after generation of precious men, women and children like you and me have become unwitting victims of deception-inspired breakdowns, suicides, molestations, spiritual abuse, and religious megalomania that have left them living lives of control-oriented legalism, or premature graves. All of them known and loved by God, all of them mattering so much to Him as you and I that Jesus Christ emptied himself of all Glory to become like them – and us – yet without sin, to die for all our sins.

No, we believe the gravest matter to be considered here is this: that such a horrendous tragedy as the rise of global spiritual deception and subsequent global destruction of human life could ever have risen to the crisis point that it is at today, and that much if not most of this state of affairs is due to the irresponsibility of the Church’s failure to reach its hands out to the drowning – among other things.

One former cult member who came to know Christ after years of patient personal work by a faithful Christian worker later was to overhear outside a Sunday School class the complaint of a less patient Christian about the amount of time that it takes to witness to cultists. “Why, with all of that time and effort,” they protested, “you can win several people to Christ!” The ex-cultist pulled the Christian aside afterwards and said “you are right. It is true. You could have won many others to the Lord with the time taken to witness to me. But,” he concluded with a shining face, “I’m so glad someone thought I was worth the trouble.”
RDM BIBLIOGRAPHY Heresies, Harold O.J. Brown, Baker 1984 Orthodoxy And Heresy, Robert Bowman, Baker 1992. An Introduction To Christian Apologetics, Edward John Carnell, Eerdmans, 1948. Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, Park Street, 1990. Recovery From Cults, edited by Michael Langone, Norton, 1993 Cult Proofing Your Kids, Paul Martin, Zondervan, Zondervan 1993. Contend For The Faith, edited by Eric Pement, EMNR, 1992

http://www.spiritwatch.org/faq.htm

HERE IS THE VIDOE TO PART ONE OF WALTER MARTINS CHISTIAN CULT VIDEO

http://vodpod.com/watch/1050431-1-2-christian-cults-dr-walter-martin?pod=how2becomeachristian

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more about “Why talk about cults PART 2 “, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

 

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Why talk about cults?

We are continually warned in the Bible to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The cults fall into the category of darkness. Cults are leading people astray into lies, deceit, confusion and ultimately hell. According to our theme verse, we are not even supposed to say, “God bless you” to cult members lest we be partakers of their evil deeds. We can tell cultists about the Lord, but if they don’t want to hear and persist in their cult activities, we are to have no fellowship with them. Today’s “Christianity” says, “Just love everybody and try to impress them with your life. After all, we all believe the same ‘essentials’.” The Lord says:

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

In this and other verses, the Bible says to mark those that cause division–not embrace them.

Purpose

This page has multiple purposes:

  1. warn the saints, cult members and potential cult members of false doctrines
  2. equip saints to effectively witness to cult members and sympathizers
  3. equip saints to identify cult members from a few words of conversation

Satan has filled this world with “Christian” cults and wrong doctrines in order to see people cast in hell fire. He (1) deceives the simple and (2) appeals to the prideful who want a “customized” religion that fits in with their belief system. Cults also offer something, “new” which in this world is tantamount to better. But God said, “I change not”. So when someone brings me a “new thing” I am wary and really seek the Lord about it.

Witnessing to the Cultist

I’ve met people from a number of cults and all of them had been brainwashed by their religious leaders. You must be in prayer the whole time you are talking to them, because the spirits that have control over them must be quieted in order for them to hear what you are saying. The cult member has been told the same lies so many times that he believes they are true. He’s been told that his group is the only one that has the truth. He has been told that the world considers his group a cult. He has been told that disciples of Jesus had to undergo the same persecution he does. You are talking to a person that thinks they are right.

The biggest weapon you’ve got is the word of God. It punches holes in every cult argument. The Bible is the only offensive weapon listed in the whole armour of God in Ephesians 6. NOTHING can replace an intimate knowledge of the authorized King James Bible. Believe it or not, I’ve met cultists who have been specifically told NOT to read the authorized King James version of the Bible. This is personal experience. Dear reader, I’m not straining at a gnat on the AKJV issue.

One time I was making some good headway with a Jehovah’s Witness cult member. The Holy Ghost was moving heavily and I could see that some light was getting through, but our time expired and she had to go back to work because her lunch hour was up. She said she’d like to get together again. I told her that if she told any of her members that they’d tell her not to talk to me again. “Oh, I’m just going to tell my husband.” That was the last I saw of her. I just have to pray and trust that God will take whatever occurred that day and work it out to His glory–His word will not return unto Him void, but will accomplish the thing that He pleases.

Cults have a tendency to change their names, but their evil deeds remain. They’ll try to tell you that their “official publications” speak for them, not the writings of their founders and prominent leaders. If you’re not sure if an organization is a cult, do these three things:

  1. Take a look at their founder. Good don’t come out of evil. Jesus said an evil tree cannot bear good fruit and this is true for cults.
  2. Ask yourself, “Who do they say Jesus is?”
  3. Ask yourself, “How do they say we must be saved?”

 

http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/cults.htm

 

HERE IS A LINK TO PART TWO OF WALTER MARTINS VIDEO ON CULTS

http://vodpod.com/watch/1050435-2-2-christian-cults-dr-walter-martin?pod=how2becomeachristian

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Have you ever heard that phrase “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” before?

If You have,,, it is most likely that you heard it from a cult member or cult group. ALL cults say they are the “one true Church” (referred to as OTC hereafter). All cults have 3 things in common. 1. The all have distorted teachings about God, specifically Jesus and the Trinity. 2. They all employ a teaching and culture of legalism. And while they may give lip service to “salvation by grace”, they apply a system of salvation by works. 3. They all claim to be “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” !

This idea of the OTC among cults is expressed in many ways, some of them very ambiguously and not always clearly understood by the folks that hear the assertions. The claim to be the OTC by cults, and the many different ways that say or imply it,, is generally called Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism being defined as “Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom” (1).

Lets understand how Cults practice authoritarianism by looking at the teachings of their leaders or books. We will see that indeed cults are sectarian and authoritarian in belief and practice,,, claiming that “only they have the ONE TRUE way” and that only through their group, church, or fellowship can anyone be saved. They say only they have authority and salvation is exclusive to, and dependant upon their teachings and membership in their group. They keep their members in bondage by saying that members that leave the OTC, will lose their salvation by doing so.

We will hear it in their own words and then I will share a comment from a friend, that sums up the topic of “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” very well. We’ll look at 3 or 4 of the more well known cults. Lets look at a couple of Mormon quotes first.

Mormons

Joseph Smith claimed that he had seen both God the Father and Jesus Christ and asked these personages which church he should join. He claimed he was told to join none of them, “for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).

Notice that the Book of Mormon here is saying that the Christian church is “the whore of all the earth”, “the church of the devil” and “the mother of abominations”.

The Mormon scripture Doctrine and Covenants says the Mormon church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Later day saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased ….” (1:30)

Clearly Mormonism’s claim has always been that it is the OTC and all others are false and of Satan. For more anti-Christian quotes from Mormon leaders all the way up to the present leadership, see this post on this blog. LINK HERE

Church of Christ

For the Church of Christ, we will refer to section of an article at faithfacts.org @ http://www.faithfacts.org/world-religions-and-theology/church-of-christ#truechurch

The section is appropriately titled,,,,

TRUE CHURCH.

Walter Scott in the preface of his book, The Gospel Restored, said: “In 1827 the True Gospel was restored. For distinction’s sake it was styled the Ancient Gospel.” In a more recent Church of Christ tract, the writer says: “She [the church] was HIDDEN for 1260 years, that she might be protected from the power of the Popes.” Is it true that some within the CC still teach that the true church was really completely hidden for some 1260 years, so hidden in fact that Alexander Campbell had to find a Baptist preacher to baptize him?

Apparently not all CC people have this understanding of the 1260 year church gap. Some only say that the true church existed during those 1260 years, although believers had to worship in secret lest they be persecuted by the apostate Catholic church. But if you do hold to the gap view, what is the meaning of Mat 28:20 (“And lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age.”)? And Ephesians 3:21 (“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”) If the church was in apostasy for centuries, why does Jesus say, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

Is it correct that sometimes the CC considers Christians who “do not walk with you,” as Ketcherside claims (www.freedomsring.org/heritage/chap22.html) to be “hobbyists, or dishonest, or insincere, or sectarians, or unworthy of notice?” Did Jesus die for a particular party within Christendom? Do you know precisely where God would draw the line to eliminate certain people from being considered Christians? How would you define “sect?” Would you define it differently than Cecil Hook (http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap24.html)?

Hasn’t the church always been in need of reform and restoration—even from the beginning, as evidenced by Paul’ letters to his churches? If a man loses his leg, doesn’t he still have the essential nature of a man? If the church loses some correct practices, doesn’t it still have the essential nature of a church (www.freedomsring.org/fic/chap19.html)? The concept of the restoration of the true church is a view that the CC holds in common with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. If the church only existed in “seed” (meaning the Word) as you say during this church gap period, where in the “seed” does it prophecy that Alexander Campbell and his followers would restore the church? Or where in the “seed” does it authorize anyone to restore the church?

Is it fair to accuse other Christians groups of being started by men, when history clearly shows that the Church of Christ was started by men—Thomas and Alexander Campbell on May 4, 1811?

How does the Bible differentiate between joining a local congregation and joining the universal church of Christ (http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap22.html)

Jehovah Witness’s

“It should be expected that the Lord would have a means of communication to his people on the earth, and he has clearly shown that the magazine called The Watchtower is used for that purpose.” (1939 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 85.)

“Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect.” The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 591.

“We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his word and channel of communication.” The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 591.

Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book. The Watchtower; July 1, 1973, pp. 402.

“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.” (The Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981.)

“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible.” The Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1967. p. 587.

Just like the Mormons, the COC and all of the Christian Cults of the restoration movement started by Alexander Campbell, the JW’s also claim to be the ONE TRUE CHURCH.

Lets look at one more cult and then I will give you my friends wise summary of all of this.. This next cult is thought by some well respected Christians to not be a cult,, but it is in both doctrine and it’s authoritarianism and claim to be the OTC.

Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)

For the SDA we will refer to a section of an article by McGregor ministries @ http://www.macgregorministries.org/seventh_day_adventists/sda_facts.html

What facts won’t they tell you?

They won’t tell you that they consider themselves to be the only, true, remnant Church. Their prophetess, Ellen G. White, whom they revere and believe without question has told them that
“…Satan has taken full possession of the Churches”. (Spiritual Gifts V.l,p.189-90)
They also believe our prayers are an “abomination” to God. (Spiritual Gifts, V1 p.190).

That is what they think of you and your church, even if they won’t say it out loud in public, or to your face.

They revere their founding prophetess, Ellen G. White, and made this statement in their “Ministry” Magazine of Oct. 1981 and have never retracted it:

“We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other”.

They won’t tell you too much about Ellen G. White at their public seminars, but their goal is to bring the person attending to the point of conversion and baptism.
Their 2000 baptismal certificate poses questions to which the candidate must answer “yes”. Question 8 says,

“Do you accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church”.

If the candidate says “yes” and is baptised, they soon learn that the “gift of prophecy” is Ellen G. White’s writings. Point 13 has them accepting that the SDA Church is the remnant church of Bible Prophecy. They have been baptized into an exclusive group, but they don’t know how exclusive it is, yet!

No doubt they will be urged to avail themselves of a “Clear Word Bible”. This publication of theirs has inserted the words and doctrines of Ellen G. White right into the Bible text, insuring that the person studying it will have the mind of Ellen G. White.

Slowly, but surely, the new SDA will come to believe these extra-biblical doctrines that set the SDA church apart from Evangelical Christianity.
Summary conclusion My friend Katherine wrote the following about “the True Church” and she did such a good job I asked her if I could include her words here in this article. Katherine says,,,

The One True Church is easy…..there will be many that are members of the One True Church….they will come from all over the World…..God knows each and everyone of them because He is the only one that knows their heart………
They come from every denomination….from every walk of life….they are rich and poor…lame and weak but very rarely strong except that because of Jesus they have become stronger and richer than they ever imagined…beyond what they could ever conceive….this is the reason they continue to want to tell others about the Love Christ has for them….so they can know also.. God wants none to perish but many will, simply because of PRIDE……

Any denomination that has rules and regulations that do not match up with the Word of GOD…..is not TRUTH….and just about every denomination has one rule that does not match with the Word……some have so many they have become cultist….. now if this rule is a rule that is a salvation rule or says that if you do not do so and so..you are not saved or if you do not belong to this denom or that denom you are not saved….well they do not match up to the Word Of GOD……the Bible is Black and White…..it is man that blurs the Word …..If you truly love one another, understanding will fall into place….God is Love….If you Love…..you will know GOD…….it seems that pride is always out front……and this is sad…….

There are two types of churches……

Church…a building with a name and lots of different people attend……saved and unsaved….

Church…..the only members of the body of Christ….they come from everywhere….and some don’t even attend a church building…….real simple

Some of my other wirings that are related to this subject are,,

1, The Heresy of Restorationsim 2. CULT UNITY 3. 34,000 differing denominations or Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS

FAIR USE notice: The material from other ministries in this article was used for research and educational purposes.
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