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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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Questions From Those in the Church of Christ Answered

by Doug Bower

Why is is that you put baptism after salvation when Jesus put it before (Mark 16:16)?

Mark is writing here that there are two results of preaching the gospel. Some would believe and be baptized and be saved. Some would not believe. Notice the lack of the word *baptize* in the second clause. This tells us that the use if the word baptize in the first clause, not being emphasized in the second clause is not the issue or point if this text.

To understand what words in scripture mean they must be defined contextually. What does baptism mean in the context of this text. It is simply a mistake to quote verses and fail to present the verse and your conclusions in the immediate as well as the *remote* context of the rest of scripture. Baptism, in the texts of Scripture, can mean many things. To look at the word and assume it always means *water* baptism is an absurd conclusion and again shows a lack of even the basics of hermeneutics.

The word baptism comes from the “dyers” trade. It was used in secular language to mean to dye a piece of cloth. When someone wanted to dye their white, bleached cloth they would go see the dyer. After looking over the selection of colors available and choosing one, the dyer, would take the cloth and “dip”, or “dunk”, or “immerse” the cloth into the vat of colored dye. When the cloth was removed it was then “identified” with the color of the dye in the vat. This was how the word originated and was used. It can have many meanings depending upon the context in which it is used.

Metaphorically it is used to indicate “union” or “identification” with Christ in His death and resurrection. Literally it can be used to signify the “immersing” of someone or something into water, dye, etc.

The verses you question in Mark 16:16 cannot mean that water baptism is a necessary condition for salvation for the following reasons:

The thief on the cross was not baptized with water but was assured of being in Paradise with Christ (Luke 23:43).

The Gentiles in Caesarea were baptized *AFTER* they were saved (Acts 10:44-48).

Jesus Himself did not baptize (John 4:1-2) — a strange omission if baptism is a necessary condition for salvation. In fact there too numerous passages to cite here where Jesus forgave sin in the gospels but there was absolutely no mentioning of water baptism when He forgave them their sins (Matthew 9:1-8, 15:21-28).

The Apostle Paul thanked God that he baptized very few of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:14-16) — an insincere thanksgiving if baptism was a necessary condition for salvation… In fact Paul goes on to say in verse 17 that he did not come to baptize but to preach the gospel. Here he makes a clear distinction that water baptism, which is what is clearly in view here, is NOT a necessary condition of salvation.

There are more than 150 verses pertaining to salvation, in the NT, which clearly teach that salvation is by Faith Alone! No one verse, i.e., Mark 16:16 could contradict this overwhelming testimony of scripture.

Baptism, in its metaphorical sense, is not associated with spiritual rebirth but with death and resurrection.

So what does this text of scripture, Mark 16:16, mean? What it *can not* mean is that water baptism is a necessary condition for salvation. To accept this interpretation would contradict the bulk of verses which form the Biblical Doctrine of salvation being by Faith Alone. It would clearly add a “good work” to the salvation process making salvation not of Grace but of Works.

“Now to him who works, the wages are not accounted as grace but debt. But of him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-8 — read the whole passage for context).

This says two things:

Faith is not a human work or else our belief on Him who justifies the ungodly would be not of Grace but of debt. God would “owe” us something for our Faith. Other texts of scripture clearly teach that the “faith that saves” is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:1-10).

It teaches that baptism is not a necessary condition for salvation. If it were, then salvation would be of works and not grace but debt thus again, God would “owe” us something for our work. And it would contradict our Covental relationship with God which was unilaterally established by God because of His mercy and Grace.

Therefore the Mark 16 passage has to mean that baptism is “an expected outward expression” of Faith. A proclamation of one’s faith. Not all get to be baptized such as the thief on the cross. But all who are saved are by Grace as the means, and through Faith as the instrument through which the Gift is received.

If baptism is not necessary, why was Cornelius “commanded” to be baptized in water (Acts 10:48).

Because Peter was obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and because just as circumcision was a sign and seal of entrance into the Old Covenant signifying the cutting away of sin, undergoing a change of heart, and being including in the household of faith (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4, 9:25-26; Ezekiel 44:7-9), so is baptism a sign and seal of “washing” away sin”, undergoing a change of heart, and being included in the household of faith. This is the purpose of water baptism. It is an outward sign and seal of the spiritual baptism whereby the Holy Spirit places us in Union with Christ in His death and resurrection.

Baptism is not identical to circumcision but corresponds to it in essence and has replaced it as the sign and seal of our Covental relationship with God as believers.

After 3 days of fasting and praying, why was Paul told by Ananias to wash away his sins through baptism if he was already saved (Acts 22:16).

An examination of the Greek text reveals the grammatical constructions which gives us clues to the meaning of this difficult text. IN the Greek there is a finite verb modified by a participle in each half of the verse. The literal rendering would go as follows: “Having arisen be baptized, and have your sins washed off (by) calling upon the name of the Lord”. This last clause would be supported by properly exegeting the rest of general biblical teaching (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).

In the clause, “be baptized and have your sins washed off”, both verbs are in the middle voice. As a general rule the verb “to baptize” is used in the passive when referring to the subjects of water baptism. But here the subject is seen as doing something for himself and not merely as receiving: “get yourself baptized”. The seeking of the outward sign and seal, and claiming for oneself of what it signifies is the response of faith to God’s Grace.

If “grace only” saves, why did Paul say baptism puts us in Christ (Galatians 3:27)?

As I said before … baptism can mean many things depending upon the context in which it is used. It can mean being dipped into water or it can mean the Spirit placing us into the Body of Christ in Union with Him and much more.

What does baptism mean in 1 Corinthians 10:2 when Paul writes that the Nation of Israel, the “fathers” (vs. 1), being under the cloud, passing through the sea, were BAPTIZED into Moses?

According to your understand implied in your “text proofing” you would have this mean that the Israelites exercised the necessary condition of salvation and were saved by Moses unto eternal life.

What 1 Corinthians 10 means is that all the Israelites went through the ordeal and deliverance of the Exodus by virtue of their identification with Moses their leader. This is one use of the word baptize which does not mean into water nor having anything to do with a necessary condition for salvation.

You need to read the 1 Corinthians 10 passage with 1 Corinthians 12:13 text. The same sense of the language is being used to convey the thought of identification or union. The similarities are striking.

There is water baptism, a sign and seal of the New Covenant, and there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby we are placed in Union/Identification into the Body of Christ and whereby we are united in the likeness of His death and resurrection (Romans 6).

Galatians 3:26-29 is the Holy Spirit’s baptism. It is the Spirit placing us in Union with Christ. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and into the likeness of His death and resurrection (Romans 6) thus putting on Christ (Galatians 3). It is a work of Grace and not of man’s. Union with Christ, which takes place at the time of conversion, is confessed in water baptism.

http://www.gospeloutreach.net/cocques.html

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“Restorationists” and the “Name of the Church”

By Bob L. Ross
Director, Pilgrim Publications

I have a whole book (unpublished) on the “Restoration Movement

Alias the Church of Christ.” Here is one of the chapters:

“Restorationists” and the “Name” of the Church By Bob L. Ross

“Church of Christ” adherents are not in the least backwards about claiming that they only “wear the Bible name;” they even condemn their “relatives,” the “Disciples” or “Christian Church,” because they don’t wear the “right name.” Some of them have even proclaimed that “Christian Church” is a “heathen” name.

We would like to ask a few questions about this so-called Bible name.

1. In the first place, where in the Bible are we commanded to wear this name?

If it is a name to be worn, and if it is essential to salvation to wear it, surely we are commanded by the Lord to wear it. Book, chapter, and verse, please; not opinions, theories, and reasoning. Of course, Romans 16:16 is often quoted in an effort to support their claim, but this verse does not command any one to wear any name. There are other passages which refer to the church under different terms, but they do not contain a commandment for using such terms as a “name.” We are commanded to do many things—repent, believe, be baptized, assemble, observe the Lord’s Supper, pray, preach, etc.—but never are we commanded to wear a name. Does not one, therefore, go beyond “that which is written” when he adds a “name” as if it were a commandment? If there is such a commandment, where is it? Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of Campbellism, and its “scholar,” translates Romans 16:16 as follows:

The congregations of Christ salute you (LIVING ORACLES, page 305). Campbell is recognized as the greatest scholar the so-called “Restoration Movement” ever had. But notice: Campbell does not translate Romans 16:16 so as to support “Restorationist” claims. Why so? He says that the word “church, or kirk, is an abbreviation of the words kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord and does not translate the term ekklesia.” (LIVING ORACLES, appendix, page 55). On this Campbell is right, for the Greek authorities tell us that ekkesia is best translated by the words “assembly” or “congregation.” Church is a word which refers to a material building, rather than to people. The word church, like baptize, appears in the King James (Episcopalian) Version because the “rules” of King James dictated that the word be used. Therefore, if Romans 16:16 gives us the name of the Lord’s assembly, what should it be? Not “Church of Christ,” for “church” is an improper translation, according to Campbell and Greek authorities. Campbell himself asserted that “Disciples” should be the name, while Barton W. Stone, another one of the “Reformers,” insisted upon “Christians.” Actually, Campbellites have been fussing over a name for their “baby” ever since it was “born.” In the CHRISTIAN REVIEW, edited by Mr. Martin, there appeared several years ago, this statement: There is, perhaps, no question about which our people are more divided than that about the name. So divided are we upon this question that the census takers cannot ascertain who we are, what we believe, or our number.

What confusion! — and on such a petty matter!

2. A paper entitled THE VINDICATOR says that any term which describes the church is all right to use as a name. But THE VINDICATOR fails to give a single verse that commands us to wear “any term.” Here is what the paper says:

I see where some Baptists are offering $100 for a Scripture which teaches that the name of the church is “The Church of Christ,” or any other particular name . . . Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in proving the foregoing for any amount of money—because I would be trying to prove something I do not even believe. Any Bible term that describes the church is acceptable to me, not just one particular name. One of the terms in the Bible, however, is the ‘Churches of Christ’ (Rom. 16:16). (Alan Highers, May 1, 1958 issue). That’s all very interesting, but you will notice that he did not tell us where we are commanded to wear “any Bible term” as a church “name.” The writer refers to “any Bible term that describes the church;” all right, suppose they start calling themselves “The Pillar and the Ground” (I Tim. 3:15), which are Bible “terms” that “describe” the church; will these “terms” be all right as the “name”? Why did they settle on the one name, “Church of Christ,” instead of several? And why do they insist that everyone else is going to Hell for not wearing this “name”?

Why don’t they hang out this sign: The Body, Temple, Building, Pillar and Ground, Household, Flock, Bride, City, and Candlestick of Christ? All of these “terms” are descriptive of the church. If all these are right to use as “names,” then is it right just to hang out one? Yet this is exactly what “Restorationists” do. Can they tell us why? How strange for a man to say he “wouldn’t be interested in proving . . . something I do not even believe,” then proceed to assert that very thing!

This is sometimes called “double-talk.” We have no objection to using terms to “describe” the Lord’s church, but we do object to making names out of terms, demanding that we wear them or go to Hell. There are many terms used of God’s people, such as “sheep,” “elect,” “living stones,” etc. Would it be right to say, then, that those in the church must wear the name “Sheep of God,” or some other name? Nonsense.

3. Actually, “assemblies of Christ” in Romans 16:16 is in the possessive case, and is no more giving a “brand name” than any other verse in the Bible. The verse simply tells us who is saluting (assemblies) and whose assemblies they are (Christ’s).

I challenge any person on the face of the earth to give one single verse that commands us to wear the name “Church of Christ” or any other “term” or name. The reward ($100) still stands, too. H. A. “Buster” Dobbs of FIRM FOUNDATION magazine claims there are several “New Testament names” for the church, and one may use whichever “name” he “prefers!” (Mar. ‘92, p. 4). This simply magnifies the fact that there is no command to use a certain “name.” Yet Dobbs also says “it is all right” to use “church of Christ exclusively!” You may “prefer not to use” other Bible “names” and use the lower-case “church of Christ” only! In the New Testament, this was neither practiced nor commanded – Dobbs himself being the witness, as he says Romans 16:16 is the “only time” in the New Testament where “church of Christ” is used. So where is “Bible authority” for the exclusive “preference” of this so-called “name?” None whatsoever! This “hobby-horse” is a “deduction” of the distorted “logic” which permeates “Restorationism.”

http://sites.silaspartners.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID43667%7CCHID152162%7CCIID443614,00.html

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“Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS General Conference, Spring 2003

As Michael Carr noted in his essay “Is the LDS Church the One True Church” (See http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/LosingBelief/one_true_church1.html), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”, the “Mormon Church”, the “LDS Church”) and many other religious faiths promote the idea that their way of approaching god is either the only legitimate way, or the best way.

The “one true church” idea is particularly influential within the Mormon Church. While the Catholics, for example, have that belief on their books, it is my perception that it has little effect on the average Catholic. However, the daily behaviour and worldview of the average faithful Mormon is heavily influenced by this idea.

As I have deconstructed my experience within the Mormon Church, I have tried to understand where this idea comes from and how it has affected me. For the moment, however, I wish to focus on one small, but important, aspect of this issue. That is, why would the “one true church” idea be of value to religious leaders who are trying to persuade their followers to continue to follow?

I began to wonder about this question years ago when I noticed the frequency with which Church members and leaders repeated to each other what I have come to call the “one true church mantra”. That is, “The Church is true.” This is shorthand within the Mormon community for the concept that the Mormon Church is god’s one and only true church on the face of the earth – the sole organization with god’s authority to perform the ordinances necessary to unite families in the hereafter and to gain entry into god’s domain, known as the celestial kingdom.

The one true church mantra is repeated regularly when Mormons gather. It is included in virtually every talk or lesson given during Mormon meetings, including the daily religious instruction that most Mormon teenagers receive through the Seminary program. Church members are taught that it should be included each time they state their beliefs (known in the LDS community as “bearing testimony”), and hence it is repeated by virtually everyone (including small children) who bears testimony at the monthly meetings held by Mormon congregations for that purpose. Mormon families are encouraged to bear this testimony to each other at family gatherings, including weekly Family Home Evenings and during the daily scripture study sessions that they are encouraged to hold. It is at least the subtext, if not the text, of many daily family prayers. It regularly finds its place into correspondence between close friends and family members. To test my instinct in that regard, I just opened the family letter that I received from my father and mother this morning, and found their testimony stated both implicitly and explicitly. The one true church mantra also plays a role in Mormon music, and must be stated as a belief by anyone who wishes to enter a Mormon temple, even for the purpose of simply attending the wedding of a family member. Most mormon missionaries express their testimony, including the belief that the Church is “true”, many times a day throughout the course of their missionary service. Etc. It is beyond doubt that great resources within the Mormon community are devoted to hammering this idea into the collective and individual Mormon psyche.

My study of sociology over the years has led me to conclude that when a message of this sort is given a prominent place within a group of people that it must play an important function. That function is often quite different from what those inside the organization, with a limited view of how it affects them, might think. It took me years, and a trip outside of the Mormon Church, to put my finger on the one true church idea’s function.

It is my view that the “one true church” concept sets up a false dichotomy that makes it easier for religious leaders to control their followers. For example, if the Mormon Church is either 100% god’s true church, or a fraud, and I have a good feeling about some of my experience with it, does that not mean that the rest (about which I don’t have a good feeling) must all be true? Does this not mean that I must give complete obedience to Church authorities, even though some of what they tell me to do makes me feel uneasy, or even bad? Does it not mean that some theory yet to be discovered, or one of the current crop that appear to have miniscule probability of predicting reality, must eventually save the day on the Book of Mormon’s historicity and the multitude of other “reality” problems the Church’s foundational stories have? In these and other ways, the one true church idea greatly aids the Mormon faithful to make the willing suspension of disbelief required to remain faithful.

The “black v. white” approach at the heart of the one true church concept also facilitates the Church’s system of conversion and belief maintenance. Church members and potential converts are told to read the Book of Mormon and that they will have a good feeling about it. This may occur simply because the Book of Mormon has some good things to say. In my case, which is typical, the process was helped along by the fact that most of my Mormon friends and relatives regularly told me that they had these good feelings, while for some reason I had not. This created an anxiety in me that grew over a period of years, and became acute as the time for me to commit to serve a mission approached, and my friends were making that commitment.

I accepted the idea that the Church must be completely true or completely false. I had been taught that from early childhood, and did not have a frame of reference within which I could question it. I also felt some good things when I read the Book of Mormon, and my anxiety started to dissipate as I experienced the nascent feeling that the book was “true”. The psychologists and brain architecture researchers tell us that the combination of the above elements is enough to create a minor epiphany, which is how I would describe the moment at which I was struck by the realization that the whole thing MUST BE TRUE! This experience became the unshakable bedrock on which my testimony stood. And how could the whole thing be false if I have felt something so good about it? That part can’t be false. And from there the true – false dichotomy led me to the conclusion that the whole thing must be true. The Church then encouraged me to express this belief, in the form of my testimony, on a regular basis in the fashion described above. This drilled my newfound belief deep into my subconscious. It is my view that the primary function of the LDS missionary program is just that: to engrain as deeply as possible the one true church mantra in the group of people traditionally the most likely to question the values of any group – young males.

And what about belief and its connection to guilt and from there to control? If the whole thing is true, then I am subject to a massive body of requirements each one of which is a source of guilt, and hence a control lever. If I feel at liberty to believe what I choose, most of my guilt goes away, and with it goes most of the Church’s ability to get me to do what it wants.

During my twenty-year plus tenure as a Mormon leader, I heard the terms “cafeteria style Mormons” or “cultural Mormons” used pejoratively to refer to members of the LDS Church who were not as obedient to leadership dictates as the leaders wished them to be. Such members are not as dedicated, obedient etc. as their “faithful” peers, and the leaders fear that such a lax attitude could spread like a form of cancer. This scares the leadership, as do intellectuals who talk openly about problems related to the Book of Mormon’s historicity and certain distasteful aspects of Joseph Smith’s history. In particular, the leaders fear those Mormons who are prepared to accept that the Book of Mormon contains some inspired writing, but that Joseph Smith made many mistakes while writing it that they are free to reject. If members of the Church feel free to reject some of what Joseph Smith said, they will surely feel free to reject the parts of what current leaders say that do not suit them. This is what the leaders most fear. This approach is a much greater threat to Church leadership than are rabid anti-Mormons.

Cultural Mormons do not do what they are told unless it makes sense, and hence they erode leadership authority. And if they are natural leaders, their attitudes are likely to affect the masses. The sheppard (if not the flock) is better off without such sheep. Hence when they are identified, they must at a minimum be silenced (as long as you are silent, you will be left alone but perhaps watched carefully), but preferably brought back into line. Those who will not get back into line are excommunicated, or as was the case with me, hand in their membership when talk of a “court of love” being held in their honour becomes serious.

To test the sensibility of the black v. white approach, try to think of any other aspect of life in which it would serve us well as a decision making model. Do we accept all of what any school of political thought tells us? How about parenting or child rearing theory? Relationship theory? Educational theory? Economics? Medicine? I cannot think of any other aspect of life in which I would be comfortable accepting the ideas that come from a single source as being my sole guide. Religious belief, in my life, had been established as a unique phenomenon, respecting which all of the rules that governed the remainder of my life were suspended. My acceptance of the one true church concept is what made this possible.

The one true church concept broke down for me as I became aware of numerous other religious belief systems that controlled their followers in precisely the way I was controlled by mine, using the same tools. The theories accepted by these communities were contradictory to those accepted in my community. However, the nature of leadership control was much the same. For many years, I assumed that against all odds my community had the truth and all others were mistaken. As I gradually became aware of the errors that Mormon leadership had made over the years, the lights began to come on. My community was as errant as the others. But, the leaders of my community had much in common with the other religious leaders for whom I had been taught to have disdain. And Mormonism’s current leaders were the ones who set up the system designed to keep faithful Mormons, such as me, from understanding their own religious heritage through its history, and hence from understanding the nature of the errors Mormon leaders have made. Guess toward whom the disdain I was taught to have has now been turned?

Here is a more extensive quote from President Hinkley’s talk that is referred to above. There is nothing unusual about it. Countless others of a similar nature could be found. I use this one because it is the most recent I could find.

The book of Revelation declares: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). …

Each of us has to face the matter – either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.

This is classic scare/control message, particularly when linked to the rest of LDS dogma in the manner indicated above. It is my view that Church and how it operates make the most sense when viewed through a control/authority paradigm. As soon as I began to use that paradigm to try to understand how the Church has influenced me, things came into focus and I was able to both find the threads that unite my past experience and predict with a high probability of success where things were headed. The “one true church” idea is near the foundation of the LDS control and authority oriented system of religious belief.

As one writer I recently read put it, the question is whether we have religious faith, or whether religious faith has us. If we are well enough informed about what our faith is and how it works in our lives to use it to help us live a full and joyous life, then we have religious faith. If, on the other hand, our beliefs are used by others to control us, then our faith has us. Those others need not be current religious leaders. It is possible to surrender our free will to people who wrote books thousands of years ago that purport to tell us what we should do, or even to abstractions of our own invention.

I have resolved to do what I can to ensure that from now on I have faith, instead of being had by it.

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/one_true_church.html

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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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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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