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Tag Archives: kingdom of the cults

Tired of trying to be a prophet, avatar or visionary but can’t get anyone to blindly follow you? Have you always wanted to know how to manipulate people in the name of any deity, religion or philosophy you want to hide behind so you can advance your OWN agenda of nakedly abusing power? Look no further!

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Examines the similarities of cult traits and NPD in the pulpit.
The Seether songs remind me of my former “spiritual leaders” and probably mean more to me than making a statement to the viewers. Watch this before you give me too much head ache.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ecnm_a0EAtk

See the links in my other videos for more info in Spiritual Abuse, NPD in the pulpit and leaving a cult. Or just read these:

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6…

http://www.chameleongroup.org.uk/npd/…

http://www.meadowhaven.org/psychissue…

Founder of Freedom Beacon Ministries in Upstate, NY, talks about cult abuse and recovery issues.

What qualifies a group as a cult? Both the sociological and the theological perspectives are examined using nifty, easy to remember visuals.

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Is Baptism Essential To Salvation?

by baptismalregenerationheresy.com

There are many churches and individuals who believe that people must be baptized in water in order for them to be saved from their sins and go to Heaven when they die. Some churches teach that baptism is essential to salvation. Those churches generally believe that anyone who trusts Jesus, but does not also get baptized in water before they die, must then go to Hell, because they did not perform the “good work” of getting baptized that they might be saved thereby.

Churches believing that baptism is essential to salvation tend to de-emphasize the Blood of Christ as an all-sufficient payment for sin. Instead, they believe that the blood of Jesus is not really sufficient to “cleanse us from all sin”. (See I John 1:9). Instead, they believe that salvation must be obtained through both the good work of Christ on the cross, and through the good work of man in baptism. People who hold to this false doctrine believe that Man therefore becomes a “co-redeemer” together with Christ. They believe in salvation by the grace of God plus the works of man. This is the erroneous belief that Jesus and man both work together to pay for sin, a doctrine also taught by the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the most well-known churches teaching that baptism is essential to salvation is the “Church of Christ”. I once heard a man say that he knew of a preacher who was raised in the Church of Christ and stayed in the Church of Christ all of his life. Nevertheless, even though he was a preacher in the Church of Christ, on his death bed he wanted to be baptized “once again”, just to “be sure” that he would go to Heaven instead of going to Hell when he died.

Those churches believing that baptism is essential to salvation often use such verses as Acts 2:38 to support this point of view. This view of baptism held by the Church of Christ can be traced to its founder, Alexander Campbell. Alexander Campbell once said that, “Immersion is that act by which our state is changed” The idea that baptism itself saves, (instead of Jesus alone saving us from our sins through His own redeeming blood shed on the cross), is called “baptismal regeneration”.

The act of baptism is actually a picture of what should have already happened in the lives of believers before they were baptized. Namely, that they have already been forgiven for their sins and therefore they have already been made ready for Heaven by trusting Jesus alone for salvation. This then brings up an interesting question: If all of their sins were already forgiven before they were baptized, then how can there be any sins left over for baptism itself to “forgive” or wash away? Also, which sin will they be sent to Hell for, if someone had trusted Jesus, but then died before getting baptized?

I was baptized a few times before I was actually saved. In fact, all that happened to me on those occasions was that I got wet. I was not saved by getting baptized. When I did get saved by trusting Jesus alone for my salvation, I was e again baptized — but this time out of obedience to Christ! Since I had already been saved, I had no need to try to earn my own salvation by my own good work of baptism. Jesus had already saved me. Jesus did all the saving. It was all Christ.

I once knew of a lady who desired to be baptized. When she was baptized and came up out of the water, she praised God that she was now saved. What she meant, of course, was that she was lost in sin before going down into the water. She was trying to save herself by her own good work of baptism. Needless to say, this woman very quickly fell back into the world and back into sin, proving that she was never truly converted in the first place. Her baptism, (which was an act of “salvation by works”), did not save her from her sin.

The idea of salvation by works dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Cain, the son of Adam, brought an offering of vegetables to God – his attempt at “salvation by works”. Nevertheless, God wanted blood, not the “good works” of fallen man. Cain’s offering of works was therefore rejected by God. The fact is, men and women often want to give their “salvation by works” offerings to God, just as Cain once tried to do. They do not want to trust Jesus alone to save them by His blood. This “total depravity” of man in rejecting God’s way of salvation by grace, helps to explain why there are hundreds of religions in the world today which provide various forms of “salvation by works”. Jesus said:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matt. 7:13)

Most people try to be saved by their good works, such as by the good work of baptism. God’s way for you to be saved is by His grace through faith in Jesus’ blood alone, which Jesus shed outside Jerusalem at Calvary to pay for your sins. The Bible says:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

“…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)

Have you trusted Jesus alone to save you from your sins? If you are trusting Jesus plus anything else to save you, then this proves that you have never actually been converted. You are still on the road to Hell. Trust Jesus alone to save you before it is too late. Eternity is a very long time, and Hell is very, very hot. Trust Jesus today!

***The Only Way to God***

http://www.baptismalregenerationheresy.com/

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Cultic Renewal of Indulgences

By J. Danny Hone

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Perhaps there is no greater perversion within the modern Charismatic movement than the perversions surrounding money and its doctrine of seed faith and the hundred fold return. In this article I do not want to discuss the flaws of the prosperity gospel but rather a greater evil. An evil similar to the one that existed within the church 500 years ago. An evil that prompted Martin Luther to nail his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg Germany on October 31st, 1517. An evil that led to a reformation, from which grew the Protestant church.

At the time there were serious abuses within the church. The large administrative structure of the church required a great deal of money to finance it. To obtain this money, the church used many devices that hurt its spiritual nature. During this same time of great need within the church some clergy lived like secular princes, building lavish palaces and indulging in corrupt financial practices. In order to do just that Pope Leo X sent out indulgence peddlers who had been granted by papal power to grant remission of sins according to the amount of money given. Among these peddlers was a man named Johann Tetzel. He began selling “indulgences” in Germany in 1517. Tetzel declared that anyone who bought an indulgence could choose a soul to be freed from purgatory, or shorten his own term in purgatory. He told buyers: “When the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

While Luther had other concerns about papal abuse it was the selling of indulgences that prompted him to hold a public debate on the matter. In those days on holidays, such as All Saints Day, it was customary to hold public debates. The subject of the debates were announced by nailing them to the church door. So on October 31st, 1517 Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door little knowing that the can of worms he opened would split the church down the middle and usher in the reformation and with it Protestantism.

The indulgences of old promised that God would pardon people’s sins in exchange for a gift to the church. The indulgences sold today promise a return by God of up to one hundred fold with every gift. At the heart of the matter of the selling of indulgences is the question as to whether God’s favor can be bought or sold. Luther held to the belief that God’s benefits were not for sale.

“Every true Christian, be he still alive or already dead, partaketh in all benefits of Christ and of the Church given him by God, even without letters of indulgence.” (1)

God’s love, favor and blessings to us is based solely on God’s attributes of kindness and grace towards us and not on the works we perform. God’s blessings can not be bought or sold. Those who pretend to do so are involved in a great heresy. They, like Pope Leo X, do so to maintain their “luxurious life of worldliness, and pay for the remodeling of the great Cathedral.” Today our churches build magnificent buildings which stand not for the glory of God but for the praise of men. Many ministers live luxurious lives at the expense of the people. The seed faith teaching is nothing more than heresy against God preached solely as a means to appeal to the greed within others so that ministries can build greater buildings and so it’s founders can live in greater wealth.

In perhaps his boldest Theses, Luther asked:

“Again, why does not the Pope build St. Peter’s Minster with his own money since his riches are now more ample than those of Crassus, rather than with the money of poor Christians?” (2)

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

“Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” (3)

“Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (4)

Luther asked the question: “If you, being the man of God, claim to have the heart of God, then why are you taking from the resources of the people for your own unjust gain, instead of, as the Apostle Paul, working night and day so as not to be a burden to the people?”

Luther’s question rings loud today. Perhaps the marking of a true man of God is a person’s beholding to this same attitude as Paul. True ministers of the church are the parents of the church. They do not bleed from the meager resources of the children to fulfill their own lustful desires. True ministers are not in it for themselves. They are moved to win the lost at any cost. Selfishness and greed have become the cornerstone of the modern Charismatic and Word of Faith (WOF) movement. This must cease if we are to be about our Father’s business.

In time Luther’s actions brought him before the diet in Worms, Germany where he was ordered to recant what he had said and written. Luther responded:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise.” (5)

Shortly after this famous speech the emperor signed the Edict of Worms, which declared Luther an outlaw and pardoned from punishment anyone who would kill him.

Luther took a stand on a biblical principle he held to be true. God’s favor can not be bought or sold. Like Tetzel of old many modern preachers, mostly within the Charismatic movement and the WOF movement, in their greed and lust to build bigger buildings and bigger ministries have been selling God’s favor using catchy phrases and twisted scriptures.

Most of the perversions fall under the terms of “seed faith” or “hundred fold return” teachings. The seed faith doctrine was made popular by Oral Roberts. Oral uses the phrase: “Have a need? Plant a seed!”. According to Oral: “God himself has established the law of sowing and reaping, of giving and receiving. Under the New Covenant you can make every act of giving a seed planted which brings you into the SEED-FAITH lifestyle of sowing and reaping which I have been led to call ‘A Blessing-Pact Covenant with God.'” (6)

What is SEED-FAITH and why is it a renewed selling of indulgences? Oral teaches: “The seed of giving is the seed of faith! And the seed has to be planted BEFORE we can speak to our mountain of need to be removed!” (7)

The doctrine of seed faith is giving to a need and expecting from God a return on that gift. Many even teach that you should name your seed before you plant it. They encourage you to put an amount of money into their offering and claim something in return, like your uncle’s salvation or a miracle debt reduction. If you need a healing, plant a seed. If you need more money, plant a seed. How strangely similar to the selling of indulgences.

In many WOF services the “man of God” claims a special word from God that goes something like this: “Before coming to this meeting tonight I was praying in the Holy Ghost in my room and the Spirit of the Lord came on me strongly and revealed to me that there are many people here tonight that are in debt to the point that creditors are calling you up. Some of you have been paying late charges that should be going to advance the kingdom of God. God has told me today that if you obey him this night and plant a seed in faith of $100.00 God is going to get involved and your debt situation will be miraculously turned around! God will rebuke the devourer, and the cankerworm that has eaten holes in your pockets is being destroyed tonight as you give! In Jesus name!”

With promises like that how can one afford not to give! The WOF movement may not be guilty of claiming salvation in exchange for money but it sure does promise everything else in exchange for your giving.

As I was beginning to question the teachings of the WOF movement God brought a book across my path titled “From Ashes to Gold” by Patti Roberts. Knowing that Patti was the first wife of Richard Roberts and that they had a very public ministry before their very public divorce I thought I would read it. She gives the following reflections on the seed money teachings they preached:

“The seed-faith theology that Oral had developed bothered me a great deal because I saw that, when taken to its natural extremes, it reduced God to a sugar daddy. If you wanted His blessings and His love, you paid Him off. Over and over again we heard Oral say, ‘Give out of your need.’ I began to question the motivation that kind of giving implied. Were we giving to God out of our love and gratitude to Him or were we bartering with Him?” (8)

Patti goes on to write:

“The distinction may appear to be too subtle and I know Oral thought I was splitting hairs, but it seemed supremely important to me. If we give to God because we think that by giving we have somehow placed Him in our debt and He is now required to come through for us and meet our needs, we have, I believe, perverted the heart of the gospel. Our only motive for giving should be love. When we encourage people to give in order to have their needs met or so that they will receive “a hundred fold return” I believe we are appealing to their sense of greed or desperation, neither of which seemed admirable to me. It was a wonderful fund-raising tool, but I believe it gave people a very unbalanced view of a very important biblical principle. At the time I was taking a humanities course from the university and my professor was discussing Martin Luther and the Reformation. When we started looking at the abuses in the Catholic church that Luther had wanted to reform, I began to see parallels in our situation. Luther was incensed by the church’s practice of selling indulgences – offering forgiveness of sin and a shorter period of time in purgatory in return for gifts to the church. I had a very difficult time distinguishing between the selling of indulgences and the concept of Seed Faith inflated to the degree to which we had inflated it. Of course, Oral was more subtle. He never promised salvation in exchange for gifts to his ministry, but there were still many people who believed that God was going to look at them in a kindlier way and perhaps that son would get off drugs or they would get their drunken husband into heaven if they gave money to Oral Roberts.” (9)

How close is Seed-Faith to the selling of indulgences? Oral writes: “You know, I sometimes think we have put more faith in a coke machine than we do in God. When you put your coin in the machine you have a contract or covenant with the coke company and the maker of the dispensing machine. Therefore, the moment you put your coin in, you reach down expecting the can to come into your hand. Well, you have a contract or covenant with One greater than a coke machine. When you put in your SEED-FAITH you are to reach out your faith not to men, but to Jesus, expecting to receive more surely from Him than you do from the coke machine.” (10)

Consider also this appeal for money: “If you’re broke, if you’re at your wit’s end, if you’re out of a job, out of work, let me tell ya. Not only are we gonna bless the world and preach Christ to millions and multitudes around the world, but you can be saved, yourself, by planting seed in this fertile soil called TBN.” (11)

Any appeal for money that promises you something from God in return is not true biblical giving and is a perversion of the Gospel. It is a heresy liken unto the selling of indulgences and as Luther drew the line, we too, must draw the line. Salvation, God, and His benefits are not for sale.

Perhaps the greatest dangers of the seed faith theology is not in its similarities to Tetzel’s selling of indulgences but its similarities to the metaphysical cults, specifically the Unity School of Christianity. At least one of Oral Roberts’ devotionals from his “Guide to Seed-Faith Living” came from the Unity School of Christianity. (12)

The Unity School of Christianity was founded by Charles Fillmore in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri. So the teachings of seed money were not invented by WOF founders but adopted from the cults.

I picked up a book at a rummage sale titled “Seed Money In Action” by Jon P. Speller. It was included in a box full of Charismatic books from the 70’s. At the time I was still involved in a WOF church and had on occasion planted seed money. I briefly thumbed through the book and put it on the shelf next to my John Avanzini and other seed faith books. When I began to question the seed money theology I went to my seed faith books to examine them closer. I picked up this book and began to read those first pages we always skip where the credits are listed. I was shocked to discover in the preface the following credits:

“The Rev. Dr. Henry M. Ellis, who unlocked the secrets of the Scriptures in his ‘BIBLE SCIENCE: THE TRUTH AND THE WAY'”

“Dr. Henry A. Carns, President of The College of Divine Metaphysics, who had added dimensions to the Study of Life and the Word”

“Mrs. Claire Waters, Teacher at the Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York, a perfect teacher of Truth”

“The Rev. Dr. David N. Moore, a Minister and Practitioner who daily demonstrates his inspiringly high Consciousness” (13)

I had been indoctrinated and influenced by the kingdom of the cults! How could popular Metaphysical cultic teachings have penetrated the WOF movement? The answer I soon discovered is that it didn’t. The WOF was deeply rooted and birthed in the cults because of the Kenyon connection. (For deeper insight into E.W. Kenyon and his cultic origins I recommend “A Different Gospel” by D.R. McConnell.) Kenyon’s teachings have been referred to as “nothing more than as Pentecostal Christian Science” by people who knew him intimately and at one time considered him a mentor.

The practice of seed money is simple. If you plant a kernel of corn you reap two ears full of kernels. So it is said to be with money. If you sow money into good ground (ministries ordained of God) you will receive a return on your giving. So the more you give the more you get. This brings us to the hundred fold teachings made popular by Copeland’s ministry: “You give $1 for the Gospel’s sake and $100 belongs to you. Give $10 and receive $1000. Give $1000 and receive $100,000. I know that you can multipy, but I want you to see it in black and white and see how tremendous the hundred fold return is. Give one house and receive one hundred houses or one house worth one hundred times as much. Give one airplane and receive one hundred times the value of the airplane. Give one car and the return would furnish you a lifetime of cars. In short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.” (14)

One can only wonder why Gloria omits the biggest part of the hundred fold return (“brothers, sisters, mothers and children”). To carry out her interpretation of the hundred fold return we can receive a hundred brothers, sisters, mothers and children for each one we give away.

One need only to stop and think about the implications of the hundred fold theology to realize the true falsehoods of such claims. If the law of hundred fold return were true all these ministries would have to do is give away a few thousand dollars and all their financial needs should be met. Instead of them receiving our money they would be knocking down doors to give so that God would bless them one hundred fold. Think of it! Every believer would live in mansions, all poverty would be wiped out and the church would never have lack again.

The danger of the hundredfold return theology is that it appeals to the greed within all of us and paints the wrong picture of God. Instead of God being a loving and giving God towards us He is reduced to a being who must be bribed or otherwise motivated to act kindly on our behalf.

In the book, “The Agony of Deceit”, Joel Nederhood writes that “whenever a religious leader or a church comes up with a scheme that confuses salvation with some kind of monetary payment, you have the worst kind of dishonesty. That is like trying to sell something that is not yours to sell. It is like trying to sell something again that has already been sold and paid for. It is a scam. It’s trickery. It’s self-serving thievery.” (15)

Paul warns us concerning the quest for wealth in the church when he writes: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (16)

Consider these words from Christ:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? . . . And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (17)

Did you notice any difference between Christ’s preaching and that commonly heard in WOF circles today? Christ is very clear that if we seek first God’s kingdom God will take care of us. Notice his comments on sowing and reaping. One could only wonder if Christ was looking 2,000 years into the future and speaking against the theology of sowing and reaping today. Hey, the birds don’t sow or reap and yet God takes care of them. Are you not worth more to God than a bird? I think so. God’s faithfulness does not rest on our works but rather on His grace. His provisions toward us have more to do with His faithfulness than with our works. Otherwise, God is just a powerforce, and we are the vessels of power. It would not be God’s faithfulness that benefits us but rather our works. Contrary to the teachings of the WOF movement our lack of faith does not nullify God’s faithfulness! (See Romans 3:3) This is the fundamental truth for which Luther took a stand. God’s mercy, God’s provision and God’s faithfulness toward us can not be bought or sold. When Simeon tried to buy a gift from God, Peter responded: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right with God.” (18)

As shocking as it may seem, there are just some things money can’t buy. God is one of them. He is not for sale. Sadly, today it appears that many ministers have more of the character of Simeon than they do of Peter.

When we give to get in return the heart of giving is changed. That which the Bible teaches should be done in selflessness is done in selfishness. Thus the heart of our giving is changed and with it the purpose. When we give to others solely out of a need to better ourselves we have missed the purpose God established in our giving. Giving to the poor or to the church is not about planting a seed and reaping a hundred fold in this life, it is about helping our brother in need. It is about love. True biblical love. An unselfish love that gives and expects nothing in return.

When the church budget becomes so big that you have to drain the resources of the people to keep the building afloat you have missed the heart of God. Better that you sell the building and meet in a tent than that you bleed your congregation of their resources. Contrary to popular opinion, he who dies with the biggest church does not win. When the church building and its maintenance become a bigger priority than the well-being of the people you have missed the heart of God. When you preach more to gain an offering than you do to win a soul you have missed the heart of God. When the extent of your ministry centers around the extent of your gain you have missed the heart of God. When you rejoice more in a large offering than you do in a changed person you have missed the heart of God. True Christianity is not about what others can do for you but about what you can do for others.

In his Theses Luther brings out some excellent points regarding the importance of charity. Consider these Theses of Luther:

“Christians should be taught, he who gives to the poor, or lends to a needy man, does better than buying indulgences.” (19)

“Christians should be taught, he who sees his neighbor in distress, and, nevertheless, buys indulgences, is not partaking in the Pope’s pardons, but in the anger of God.” (20)

“Christians should be taught, unless they are rich enough, it is their duty to keep what is necessary for the use of their households, and by no means throw it away on indulgences.” (21)

“Wrong is done to the word of God if one in the same sermon spends as much or more time on indulgences as on the word of the Gospel.” (22)

“Therefore, the treasures of the Gospel are nets, with which, in times of yore, one fished for the men of Mammon. But the treasures of indulgence are nets, with which now-a-days one fishes for the Mammon of men.” (23)

It is unquestionable that a type of selling of indulgences has penetrated the church once again. During a recent TBN telethon a prophecy went out that if viewers would sow a seed of $2,000 into TBN God would get them out of debt, most within 90 days. At one point they were bold enough to say that this telethon wasn’t even for TBN’s needs. It was for God’s people, so that as they give they could be set free of their debts. The most shocking statement made came on Sunday morning (4-5-98) at 9:05 EST. The guest minister pointed at his televison audience and said: “Some of you have been reaping from this ministry without a single thought of sowing back into it. When you sow into this ministry you are sowing into the Spirit of Galations that says that when you sow into the Spirit you will reap eternal life.”

My friends, this is heresy. It is the selling of indulgences. It is an insult to all that Jesus came to do. It is a different gospel. Many, in the name of Christ, are seeking once again after the Mammon of men instead of the men of Mammon. Greed and selfishness exist from the least to the greatest. The grace of giving has been recreated into an art of investing. In the pursuit for money the gospel of salvation has been exchanged for a gospel of finances. As a result the moral structure of our church and community is slowly decaying away as the church focuses more on wealth than it does on righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. The cries to win the lost have faded as the pleas for offerings are sounded from the roof tops.

It was Christ who sternly warned us to . . . “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed: A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (24)

Paul also warned that among us there must not even be a hint of greed. (25) Peter warned us too when he wrote: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have invented. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (26)

Truly God’s people need to be a giving people. But let us return to giving from a pure heart and not from a motivation of greed. The heresy that has been accepted in the church needs to be repented of and not tolerated. Just as Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door nearly 500 years ago we too must take a stand for righteousness. The selling of indulgences can not be tolerated in the name of Christianity, for neither God, salvation, nor His benefits are for sale. “Every true Christian, be he still alive or already dead, partaketh in all the benefits of Christ and of the Church given him by God, even without letters of indulgence.” (27)

Footnotes

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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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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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