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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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Most of the information in this article is taken from the sources footnoted.

Restorationism is the claim that the Christian Church fell away from the truths of Jesus and the NT apostles and had to be “RESTORED” to it’s NT state and practice. The whole Christian church had become apostate and non-existent, is their claim. But this allegation is pure folly and uninformed speculation. This is also in total contrast and contradiction to the idea of “REFORM” and the protestant reformation.

The main influence and emphasis of the Restoration Movement of the Cambellite’s and their subsequent offsping religions of the “restorationist” that followed and was spawned from them, is seriously flawed and based on the false assumption that the true Christian Church had been wiped clean from the face of the earth (needing to be completely restored) and that Gods promises about his church and word are not true. In the face of much persecution and attempts to abolish God’s church and word from the face of the earth, there has always been at least a large remnant of true believers and members of the incorporeal and invisible church of God. “’Restorationism’ is based on a belief called the Great Apostasy, that traditional Christianity has departed so far from the original Christian principles that it is not redeemable.” (2)

The bible contains these promises about itself and Jesus’s Church.

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The Doctrine of Autonomous Self: A Hidden Idolatry
By A. Sutono

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:11-15)

I. Background

In this text, Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer, as well as the cause and effect of it. We learn the cause of him being eternally condemned by God from v.13 and 14 is that he is so filled with pride and self-adoration that he declares himself to be worthy to ascend into heaven and be exalted above the stars of God. He considers himself to be as equally valuable, as equally worthy, if not more valuable and more worthy than God himself that he should be like the Most High. In response, God removed him from his original state and declares that his splendor be nullified and brought down to shame, and he himself be brought down to hell, to a place of eternal torment which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) forever as his eternal destiny. When Lucifer was removed from heaven, his name became Satan, and was cast to the earth. In the account of the Fall in Gen 3, after which God offered the promise of deliverance through the atoning work of the LORD Jesus Christ on the cross implied in v. 15, we may observe the correlation between Satan’s sinful ambition to what he tempted Adam and Eve with, which eventually led the couple to sin against God and caused the entire humanity to be totally and hopelessly depraved and under the same condemnation that Lucifer has as a result. The correlation is clearly seen in Gen 3:5, when Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Here are the double lies being offered to Eve springing out of the same principle behind his botched coup attempt; first, that she would be like gods, and thus independent, able to rule over herself apart from God, and secondly, there is not one God, but many gods; each is sovereign over himself or herself.

From here, I would like to state the thesis of this article before expounding further:

1. That the doctrine of autonomous-self, or often referred to as “free-will”, whether it be “Christian” or non-Christian one, though may not appear explicitly, originates from the same spirit by which Lucifer rebelled against God, that is, the spirit of self-idolatry.

2. That the doctrine of autonomous-self is indeed a non-Christian doctrine because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches such a doctrine and therefore, should be rejected by all true Christians.

I would like to first define what an autonomous self is. I would then attempt, by the use of the first thesis, refute the free-will Arminian argument to defend this false doctrine, particularly in regard to the Fall, salvation, and all the affairs of the world. Finally, I would close with the Biblical basis of my refutation with the exhortation given in the second thesis.

II. Definition of Autonomous Self

Throughout history, there are many who teach the doctrine of autonomous self, among whom is Pelagius. I would now quote from John Owen [1] on what Pelagianism teaches about the autonomous self:

“According to Pelagianism, God gives grace to all who hear the law and the gospel preached. Those who do this are persuaded to repent and believe by the promises of the gospel and the threatenings of the law. The things taught and commanded in the law and gospel are seen to be not only good in themselves, but so utterly reasonable that anyone would gladly receive them if they were not so prejudiced ( i.e., men can themselves respond favorably to the gospel preached by believing in the message without any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit), or deliberately chose to continue with their sinful life. Man has only to consider these promises of the gospel and threatenings of the law to remove these prejudices and so reform himself. When man believes the gospel and obeys it of his own free will and choice (again, no external divine influence at work to convince him of the truth of the gospel, on the contrary, this conviction comes out within himself), then he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, enters into all the privileges of the New Testament, and has a right and title to all the promises concerning both the present and the future life. So say the Pelagians. Thus man converts himself, and the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit are both excluded. All that is needed is the ability to persuade him to repent of his sin and believe and obey the gospel.”

In other words, the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that men in both unregenerate and regenerate states is completely independent and capable of self-determination of what is good and bad for him (hence the term autonomous) and from which make decision without any external divine influence or swaying to a particular direction.

To understand what autonomous-self is more clearly, let us look at Sproul’s definition of autonomy [2]:

“To be autonomous means to be a law unto oneself. An autonomous creature would be answerable to no one. He would have no governor, least of all a sovereign governor. It is logically impossible to have a sovereign God existing at the same time as an autonomous creature. The two concepts are utterly incompatible. To think of their coexistence would be like imagining the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. What would happen? If the object moved, then it could no longer be considered immovable. If it failed to move, then the irresistible force would no longer be irresistible.”

Then for the definition of autonomous self, I would borrow from David Wells [3], defining the autonomy generation as:

“…those who belonged in this outlook saw themselves as being at the center of life, as being responsible only to themselves, as having the sole hand in deciding what beliefs to hold and what behaviors to follow.”

And therefore, continuing to quote Wells [3]:

“… the self becomes the main form of reality and the pursuit of its rights and unique intuitions, even in the face of others, is what life is about.”

My comment to Prof. Well’s definition is this. Isn’t the autonomous-self then the essence of prosperity gospel, where Christ has been reduced to a lackey or a genie to serve us to accomplish our agenda whether that be family, or money, or career, or, self-healing, self-improvement or anything other than Christ himself? Some may say they don’t believe in prosperity gospel but believe in free-will in the autonomous sense. This, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of the prosperity gospel.

II. Refutation of the Arminian Argument of Autonomous Self

Now I desire to refute biblically a familiar argument in regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation and all events throughout the course of history. In addition, I would also attempt to show the spirit behind all these arguments tends to resemble that of Lucifer as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. Before I go on doing so, however, I would like to point out ‘the goal of the commandment is love’. I can understand new Christians who believe in autonomous self, because I was like that. I tend to think it is natural for new Christians to have such an understanding of how salvation and all the affairs in the world work. I acknowledge I need the humility to understand those who are slow to grasp the truth in the sovereignty of God over all things. The fact is the LORD had mercy on me to reveal what I consider a precious biblical truth of his sovereignty that I have come to love, embrace, and desire to defend with hopefully a holy zeal, holy motive, yet with humility as well in this article. And may the LORD grant the grace to change and transform hearts and minds into ones that acknowledge and submit joyfully under his supremacy over all things (Col 1:18).

The argument that I would like to refute (though there has been many more qualified pastors and theologians than me, past and present who have done this, but I would try to do it from hopefully a different point of view), is a common free-will Arminian / Pelagian argument which was the first Arminian article in their remonstrance brought by Johannes Uitenbogaard and Simon Episcopious in 1610, which was refuted by the Calvinists’ Counter Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619, in regard to how salvation works as follows. This first article stated the following: “God’s foreknowledge, that is, divine election was conditiond on foreseen or foreknown faith”. In other words, it says “faith is the cause of election” the basis of which is for example in Rom 8:29, refers to God knowing in advance of who is going to believe by their own free will and who is not, and from there God elects them to be saved. Thus man’s faith existing apart from God’s will but from the man himself is the cause of God’s election. In other words, it all starts with man’s free will to choose to be saved. Men are the Alpha, the beginning, not God. Then based on each independent isolated individual’s decision to believe or to desire to be saved where God has nothing to do with because this comes out completely and independently from man and not God, God is obliged to save them because they have faith to believe. Here men call God to account and demand that because they initiated to believe the Gospel, God is required to save them. So God’s sovereignty consists in submitting himself to and making sure the wills of men are carried out. God is not free in ordaining anything because He is subject to the will of men that he values very much even more important and above himself. Here is the worst kind, the most blatant, the most arrogant, and the most blasphemous of man-centered doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Bible, and an example how the Scripture like Rom 8:29 is distorted to serve man’s needs or if I may borrow John Piper’s quote[4], the gospel has been abused for ‘psychological form of mind control’. I regard this Arminian stand on the free agency of man and God as the most self-centered among man-centered doctrines, even more man-centered than opentheism.

Opentheism at least admits the future is unknown, even God has no control over it and anybody could change it. The Arminian doctrine in regard to the free-will of men as we have discussed is worse than open-theism because it teaches the future is already known, at least in regard to salvation, who is saved and who is not, and who makes this decision before the foundations of the world is men. Then God responds to each individual decision either by saving or condemning. Here is the kind of abomination that I dread has been prevailing in the minds of many Christians, because this is how they were taught by man-centered, world-loving, money-loving preachers. Those who teach this doctrine usually insist that God is still sovereign and omnipotent. But I sense this is simply a futile attempt to cover up their self-centeredness and thus, self-idolatry. God, despite his omnipotence, has been domesticated to serve man’s needs. His omnipotence has become subordinate to man’s will and it is his to use for his benefit. Man makes the call first independently out of his own self-determination of good and bad. Then it is God’s turn to follow up on man’s actions and decisions, whether to clean them up if they are sinful, or to bless them if they are good.

As Mark Talbot says [5] (he explains it in the context of opentheism, but I believe it is applicable here as well) that the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that God values man’s free will so much that he is willing to pay any price. God is really good in cleaning things up to the point that the alternative plan B that he executes looks even better, more perfect than the botched plan A that man has frustrated. So in a way, the doctrine of autonomous self treats God like a lackey or a genie in a bottle whom man can stir as he pleases and wills. Everything God does is for the benefits of man, and here is man, the center of the universe and God’s idol. Therefore, men are not only the Alpha, the beginning, but also the Omega, the end of everything God does and the whole entire universe work for. This, I fear, may God forbid, is the desire behind those who embrace the doctrine of autonomous self which is nothing but the very ambition of Lucifer to be exalted above God (Isa 14:13-14) because the resemblance between the two is striking. It is all about desire for control, as Dave Wells pointed out behind autonomous self [6]:

“This preoccupation with the future is really about control. At least, it is about our attempts at controlling the future as it crests into the present by being able to position ourselves to avoid what is disagreeable and to capitalize on what is advantageous. Indeed, we even go further. We imagine that the future begins in our minds and we can actually create it.”

At this point, I would point to Scripture texts (that I also included somewhere else [7]) that I hope the LORD uses to show the fallacy of the doctrine of autonomous-self, to humble its proponents and exhort them to embrace the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God over all things. While these texts tend to be self-explanatory in themselves but I shall attempt to expound a little on each:

– “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). John says the decisive power to become the sons of God ( v.12), i.e., to be saved, does not come from man’s will power, but God’s (v.13). Therefore, contrary to what the first remonstrance article says that faith is the cause of election, John says election is the cause of faith. God initiates salvation, not men. Men are dead in their trepasses (Eph 2:1). Physically dead people do not and can not have any desire (inclination) and ability to eat, drink, work, because they are dead, their brain is dead, their heart is dead, their digestive system is dead, and there is no way for them to revive themselves. So also dead Lazarus was unable to revive himself until Jesus called him and infused life to his body to revive him. (John 11). Lazarus did not revive himself. Jesus did. And thus Lazarus couldn’t brag he was alive because of his free will to be alive. Likewise, it is impossible for spiritually dead people to have any desire for God. Their heart is ‘desperately’ or ‘hopelessly’ wicked as Jer 17:9 says. St. Paul affirms the total depravity of humanity apart unless God changes this heart of stone with the heart of flesh (Ez 36:26-27) because “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law. Nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7). Notice the last part that says “Nor can it do so.” So let us not brag that we have the free will to be christians or we in our sovereignty “decided” to be christians. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3) but with sober judgment, I’d say, of who we were, and what we are now, and who God is. Do not rob God of something He did and claim we did it. The faith, the willingness to believe, to embrace Christ as our treasure, our LORD does not come from our self-determination, but He purchased it on the cross.

– “All the plans of the LORD stands firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11). God has written down the course of history from the beginning to the end. All his plans will happen, stand firm forever. Everything originates from Christ and returning to Christ, and the details for everything on its way returning to him is fixed and unchangeable (see also Heb 1:2-3, Rom 11:36). God does not make mistakes. God is not a God who is good in cleaning up mess created by men and coming up with plan B. Nobody can frustrate nor thwart nor prevent God from doing anything he wants, Dan 4:35, “All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?'”

– “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God has written down not only the entire course of history before the foundations of the world, but also the scenario of each individual who ever lives, past present and future. This is good for believers for two reasons (but may cause free-willers to feel dejected because they don’t desire God to make the call for them, they desire to make the call themselves). First, it teaches humility that you and I are creatures and God is God. We have absolutely no right over ourselves because we don’t own ourselves, God does. Secondly, this is good news because God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Therefore whatever plans he has for us can be guaranteed to be the most absolute best for our good and the magnifying his name first and most importantly (see Rom 8:28).

– “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11). God is free to do anything he wants according to the pleasure of his will. His decision making is not constrained by anything, not by the will of men, not by the wills of angels, not by the will of the devil. He is absolutely free in making any calls. Isn’t this what it means to be God? If God has to submit beforehand in his foreknowledge to men’s decision to be saved or not to be saved, then men are gods, and God is their lackey.

A question then arises, “How, despite crystal clear words from the apostle that believers are slaves of Christ (e.g., Rom 6:18,22), can there be such an arrogant doctrine as the autonomous self in Christian churches?” The answer is because the LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely good, gracious, merciful, patient, loving Master. He is not a hard Master at all. Men, seizing this opportunity arising from their deep-rooted corruption inherited from the Fall, reinforced by the temptation of the old serpent, abuse the kindness of Christ for their own glory. Men, out of their odious mind resulting from the stench infected to them from the Fall, distort the grace of the Savior to serve their own vanity, and so distort the message of the gospel, that is the pursue of God’s (not men’s) glory in salvation through Christ. Since Christ is so patient, then it is their opportunity to question him, to hold him accountable to them, and thus, what John Piper pointed out [8], that men placing themselves on the bench and putting God in the dock, instead of the other way around (he actually quoted this from C.S. Lewis). I sense free-willers would feel uncomfortable in hearing what God’s goal is in everything he does in Eph 1:5-6, “… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” that God saves men not because he makes so much of them, but for the praise of his glorious grace, that his name may be magnified, cherished, worshipped for his great mercy upon mankind, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom 15:9). The only way to cure this discomfort is to acknowledge and repent of the pride and the self-idolatrous spirit behind the doctrine of autonomous self, renounce it, and embrace the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified. Amen.

References
1. J. Owen, “The Holy Spirit,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 76-77.

2. R.C. Sproul, “Chosen by God,” Tyndale House Publishers, October 1986, Ch. 3, p.?

3. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 234, 153.

4. J. Piper, “Woe to Those who Trample the Son of God,” Desiring God Ministries (audio), April 13, 1997, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…he_Son_of_God/

5. M. Talbot, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do Us,” Desiring God National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, October 7-9, 2005.

6. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 239.

7. A. Sutono, “The Defense for the Sovereignty of God in the Fall of Man,” Nov 25, 2006.

8. J. Piper, “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election,” Desiring God Ministries, Nov 30, 2003, ttp://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…e_of_Election/

ttp://www.christianchatforum.com/articles/elect.shtml

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Healing the economy means going beyond ‘What’s in it for me?’
By Douglas Todd 01-10-2009

Healing the battered economy means going beyond the ‘self’; ‘What’s in it for me?’ is not an attitude that will work in the times we face

Many Pentecostal Christians have been among the hardest-hit victims of the economic meltdown in North America.

“Victims” might not be the best word to describe their fate, though. Followers of the popular “Prosperity gospel” suffered because of their own desperation, naivete and uncontrolled desire.

Prosperity gospel adherents have put too much stock in certain Pentecostal leaders in the United States and Canada who preach that God will provide worldly wealth if you just give your soul to Jesus Christ and your donation to the church.

The most prominent proponent of this theology of cars, boats and houses is Joel Osteen, author of Your Best Life Now.

With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers.

Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford. However, it’s not only adherents of the Prosperity gospel who have spiritual and moral lessons to draw from the financial collapse. After all, they haven’t been alone in their struggles.

The larger spiritual themes behind this financial meltdown are those of too much blind optimism about the financial system, too much faith in leaders and too much unacknowledged self-interest.

Which brings us to greed.

There can be benefits from modest amounts of each of the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, lust, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony and greed.

While there is something to be said for moderate self-interest fuelling our lives and the economy, greed has careened beyond control on many economic fronts. In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was not much of an exaggeration of a real-life financier when he baldly preached, “Greed is good!”

Rebecca Blank, senior economic analyst for the Brookings Institute and co-author of Is the Market Moral?, recently said: “Greed is good to most economists. It’s greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow. Greed has certain economic advantages. It’s hard for an economist not to say that.

“But greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. There’s a level beyond which greed can go too far, and . . . being greedy for more goods and to make another buck can make me stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you. That is when greed clearly becomes sinful — even, I think, in economics.”

Moral concerns about our over-avaricious attitudes have even been expressed recently by high-profile evangelical Christian leaders such as Chuck Colson (Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man), who has made a career of praising Jesus Christ in the same breath as free enterprise. Like theologian Michael Novak, Colson believes western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint. “Take away moral restraint and the stool collapses.”

But Colson’s solution — simply to talk more about morality in churches and elsewhere and to wish for greater moral behaviour — won’t make the economic system more stable or fair. That is what was uncovered through a revealing investigation of the moral behaviour of evangelical leaders by scholar Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Lindsay found precious few evangelical executives were “distinguishing themselves from their secular peers” by taking salaries capped, for instance, at a ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employees of 20:1. Most tried to justify astonishingly luxurious salaries.

Just as the Communist Soviet Union fell apart because it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to embrace the principle of equality, the western capitalist system cannot sustain itself just by hoping everyone will embrace justice.

Without regulations to enforce society’s moral ideals, the scoundrels prevail. Now nearly all of us are suffering because we were drawn, knowingly and unknowingly, into their unrestricted avarice.

As Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Spiritual insight into the economic collapse comes from Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago Divinity School, one of the most distinguished religious historians in North America.

Marty believes the economic meltdown grew out of a growing global obsession with the “self.” He points to the way many economists talk about how the “spreading disease” in the global economy will “self-heal.” But Marty believes the modern free world is fixated on terms such as “self-generating,” “self-developing” and “self-correcting.” It’s the kind of thinking that has led many to over-optimistically advocate for an “unfettered” and “unregulated” market that never impinges on the supremacy of the “self.”

But there are crucial limits to the “self.”

Marty suggests Americans (and, I’d add, many Canadians) haven’t been willing to face the dark, shadow aspects of an economic system and foreign policy that focused on serving only the “self” (including that of the nation).

Just as the Iraq war has proved disastrous on human and financial fronts, Marty says the battered economy is making us look at all aspects of what happens when “the self” is glorified as absolute.

“We are well aware of our own virtue, knowledge, power and security, and these are real enough to be celebrated,” he writes.

“But we did not recognize their undersides: vice, ignorance, weakness and insecurity, which overtook us.”

As a Lutheran, Marty responds to the financial crisis with a secular translation of the “body of Christ” theme, which teaches us to reflect on how “we are members one of another.”

Instead of “self-healing,” he wisely suggests the western economic system needs “mutual” healing.

To use the language of other traditions, a Buddhist might say we need economic solutions that recognize we are all interconnected.

In secular terms, the late American political philosopher John Rawls would teach that we need economic policies beneficial to us all, no matter where we find ourselves on the financial ladder.

The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, “What’s in it for me?”

dtodd@vancouversun.com

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/10/healing-the-battered-economy-means-going-beyond-the-self-what-s-in-it-for-me-is-not-an-attitude-that-will-work-in-the-times-we-face.aspx

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Does God Want You To Be Rich?

A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors. By DAVID VAN BIEMA, JEFF CHU Posted Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448,00.html

When George Adams lost his job at an Ohio tile factory last October, the most practical thing he did, he thinks, was go to a new church, even though he had to move his wife and four preteen boys to Conroe, a suburb of Houston, to do it. Conroe, you see, is not far from Lakewood, the home church of megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen.

Osteen’s relentlessly upbeat television sermons had helped Adams, 49, get through the hard times, and now Adams was expecting the smiling, Texas-twanged 43-year-old to help boost him back toward success. And Osteen did. Inspired by the preacher’s insistence that one of God’s top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime–and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less–Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work. He didn’t have entry-level aspirations: “God has showed me that he doesn’t want me to be a run-of-the-mill person,” he explains. He demanded to know what the dealership’s top salesmen made–and got the job. Banishing all doubt–“You can’t sell a $40,000-to-$50,000 car with menial thoughts”–Adams took four days to retail his first vehicle, a Ford F-150 Lariat with leather interior. He knew that many fellow salesmen don’t notch their first score until their second week. “Right now, I’m above average!” he exclaims. “It’s a new day God has given me! I’m on my way to a six-figure income!” The sales commission will help with this month’s rent, but Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: “Twenty-five acres,” he says. “And three bedrooms. We’re going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle.”

“I’m dreaming big–because all of heaven is dreaming big,” Adams continues. “Jesus died for our sins. That was the best gift God could give us,” he says. “But we have something else. Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.” In support of this alarming prediction, he forcefully contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: “For what profit is it to a man,” he asks, “if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” It is one of the New Testament’s hardest teachings, yet generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian, on some level, means being ready to sacrifice–money, autonomy or even their lives.

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

“Prosperity” first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals. But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming. Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three–Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta–are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes’ ministry has many more facets). While they don’t exclusively teach that God’s riches want to be in believers’ wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen’s 4 million–selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston’s other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen’s: “Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they’re offering.”

The movement’s renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen’s by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, he snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”

The brickbats–both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)–come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Prosperity’s defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. They caution against broad-brushing a wide spectrum that ranges from pastors who crassly solicit sky’s-the-limit financial offerings from their congregations to those whose services tend more toward God-fueled self-help. Advocates note Prosperity’s racial diversity–a welcome exception to the American norm–and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity. And they see in it a happy corrective for Christians who are more used to being chastened for their sins than celebrated as God’s children. “Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.” If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

As with almost any important religious question, the first response of most Christians (especially Protestants) is to ask how Scripture treats the topic. But Scripture is not definitive when it comes to faith and income. Deuteronomy commands believers to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth”, and the rest of the Old Testament is dotted with celebrations of God’s bestowal of the good life. On at least one occasion–the so-called parable of the talents (a type of coin)–Jesus holds up savvy business practice (investing rather than saving) as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Yet he spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”; and his encounter with the “rich young ruler” who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Both statements can be read as more nuanced than they at first may seem. In each case it is not wealth itself that disqualifies but the inability to understand its relative worthlessness compared with the riches of heaven. The same thing applies to Paul’s famous line, “Money is the root of all evil,” in his first letter to Timothy. The actual quote is, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

So the Bible leaves plenty of room for a discussion on the role, positive or negative, that money should play in the lives of believers. But it’s not a discussion that many pastors are willing to have. “Jesus’ words about money don’t make us very comfortable, and people don’t want to hear about it,” notes Collin Hansen, an editor at the evangelical monthly Christianity Today. Pastors are happy to discuss from the pulpit hot-button topics like sex and even politics. But the relative absence of sermons about money–which the Bible mentions several thousand times–is one of the more stunning omissions in American religion, especially among its white middle-class precincts. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow says much of the U.S. church “talks about giving but does not talk about the broader financial concerns people have, or the pressures at work. There has long been a taboo on talking candidly about money.”

In addition to personal finances, a lot of evangelical churches have also avoided any pulpit talk about social inequality. When conservative Christianity split from the Mainline in the early 20th century, the latter pursued their commitment to the “social gospel” by working on poverty and other causes such as civil rights and the Vietnam-era peace movement. Evangelicals went the other way: they largely concentrated on issues of individual piety. “We took on personal salvation–we need our sins redeemed, and we need our Saviour,” says Warren. But “some people tended to go too individualistic, and justice and righteousness issues were overlooked.”

A recent Sunday at Lakewood gives some idea of the emphasis on worldly gain that disturbs Warren. Several hundred stage lights flash on, and Osteen, his gigawatt smile matching them, strides onto the stage of what used to be the Compaq Center sports arena but is now his church. “Let’s just celebrate the goodness of the Lord!” Osteen yells. His wife Victoria says, “Our Daddy God is the strongest! He’s the mightiest!”

And so it goes, before 14,000 attendees, a nonstop declaration of God’s love and his intent to show it in the here and now, sometimes verging on the language of an annual report. During prayer, Osteen thanks God for “your unprecedented favor. We believe that 2006 will be our best year so far. We declare it by faith.” Today’s sermon is about how gratitude can “save a marriage, save your job [and] get you a promotion.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon about money,” he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets’ locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. “Does God want us to be rich?” he asks. “When I hear that word rich, I think people say, ‘Well, he’s preaching that everybody’s going to be a millionaire.’ I don’t think that’s it.” Rather, he explains, “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?” The room’s warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes.

Osteen is a second-generation Prosperity teacher. His father John Osteen started out Baptist but in 1959 withdrew from that fellowship to found a church in one of Houston’s poorer neighborhoods and explore a new philosophy developing among Pentecostals. If the rest of Protestantism ignored finances, Prosperity placed them center stage, marrying Pentecostalism’s ebullient notion of God’s gifts with an older tradition that stressed the power of positive thinking. Practically, it emphasized hard work and good home economics. But the real heat was in its spiritual premise: that if a believer could establish, through word and deed (usually donation), that he or she was “in Jesus Christ,” then Jesus’ father would respond with paternal gifts of health and wealth in this life. A favorite verse is from Malachi: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse … and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘If I will not for you open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” (See boxes.)

It is a peculiarly American theology but turbocharged. If Puritanism valued wealth and Benjamin Franklin wrote about doing well by doing good, hard-core Prosperity doctrine, still extremely popular in the hands of pastors like Atlanta megachurch minister Creflo Dollar, reads those Bible verses as a spiritual contract. God will pay back a multiple (often a hundredfold) on offerings by the congregation. “Poor people like Prosperity,” says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. “They hear it as aspirant. They hear, ‘You can make it too–buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.’ It can function as a form of liberation.” It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as “another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money.”

In the past decade, however, the new generation of preachers, like Osteen, Meyer and Houston’s Methodist megapastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, who gave the benediction at both of George W. Bush’s Inaugurals, have repackaged the doctrine. Gone are the divine profit-to-earnings ratios, the requests for offerings far above a normal 10% tithe (although many of the new breed continue to insist that congregants tithe on their pretax rather than their net income). What remains is a materialism framed in a kind of Tony Robbins positivism. No one exemplifies this better than Osteen, who ran his father’s television-production department until John died in 1999. “Joel has learned from his dad, but he has toned it back and tapped into basic, everyday folks’ ways of talking,” says Ben Phillips, a theology professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. “To live your best life now,” it opens, to see “your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass …” you must “start looking at life through eyes of faith.” Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion, Resurrection or Atonement. There are chapters on overcoming trauma and a late chapter on emulating God’s generosity. (And indeed, Osteen’s church gave more than $1 million in relief money after Hurricane Katrina.) But there are many more illustrations of how the Prosperity doctrine has produced personal gain, most memorably, perhaps, for the Osteen family: how Victoria’s “speaking words of faith and victory” eventually brought the couple their dream house; how Joel discerned God’s favor in being bumped from economy to business class.

Confronting such stories, certain more doctrinally traditional Christians go ballistic. Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that “we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health–it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life’s problems.” Respected blogger Michael Spencer–known as the Internet Monk–asked, “How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He’s not. He’s not one of us.” Osteen is an irresistible target for experts from right to left on the Christian spectrum who–beyond worrying that he is living too high or inflating the hopes of people with real money problems–think he is dragging people down with a heavy interlocked chain of theological and ethical errors that could amount to heresy.

Most start out by saying that Osteen and his ilk have it “half right”: that God’s goodness is biblical, as is the idea that he means us to enjoy the material world. But while Prosperity claims to be celebrating that goodness, the critics see it as treating God as a celestial ATM. “God becomes a means to an end, not the end in himself,” says Southwestern Baptist’s Phillips. Others are more upset about what it de-emphasizes. “[Prosperity] wants the positive but not the negative,” says another Southern Baptist, Alan Branch of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “Problem is, we live on this side of Eden. We’re fallen.” That is, Prosperity soft-pedals the consequences of Adam’s fall–sin, pain and death–and their New Testament antidote: Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the importance of repentance. And social liberals express a related frustration that preachers like Osteen show little interest in battling the ills of society at large. Perhaps appropriately so, since, as Prosperity scholar Harrison explains, “philosophically, their main way of helping the poor is encouraging people not to be one of them.”

Most unnerving for Osteen’s critics is the suspicion that they are fighting not just one idiosyncratic misreading of the gospel but something more daunting: the latest lurch in Protestantism’s ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that “you don’t have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God’s blessing,” says Edith Blumhofer, director of Wheaton College’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals. Indeed, a last-gasp resistance to this embrace of wealth and comfort can be observed in the current evangelical brawl over whether comfortable megachurches (like Osteen’s and Warren’s) with pumped-up day-care centers and high-tech amenities represent a slide from glorifying an all-powerful God to asking what custom color you would prefer he paint your pews. “The tragedy is that Christianity has become a yes-man for the culture,” says Boston University’s Prothero.

Non-prosperity parties from both conservative and more progressive evangelical camps recently have been trying to reverse the trend. Eastern University professor Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a fringe classic after its publication in 1977, is selling far more copies now, and some young people are even acting on its rather radical prescriptions: a sprinkling of Protestant groups known loosely as the New Monastics is experimenting with the kind of communal living among the poor that had previously been the province of Catholic orders. Jim Wallis, longtime leader of one such community in Washington and the editor of Sojourners magazine, has achieved immense exposure lately with his pleas that Evangelicals engage in more political activism on behalf of the poor.

And then there is Warren himself, who by virtue of his energy, hypereloquence and example (he’s working in Rwanda with government, business and church sectors) has become a spokesman for church activism. “The church is the largest network in the world,” he says. “If you have 2.3 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ, that’s bigger than China.”

And despite Warren’s disdain for Prosperity’s theological claims, some Prosperity churches have become players in the very faith-based antipoverty world he inhabits, even while maintaining their distinctive theology. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who pastors Windsor Village, the largest (15,000) United Methodist church in the country, can sound as Prosperity as the next pastor: “Jesus did not die and get up off the Cross so we could live lives full of despair and disappointment,” he says. He quotes the “abundant life” verse with all earnestness, even giving it a real estate gloss: “It is unscriptural not to own land,” he announces. But he’s doing more than talk about it. He recently oversaw the building of Corinthian Pointe, a 452-unit affordable-housing project that he claims is the largest residential subdivision ever built by a nonprofit. Most of its inhabitants, he says, are not members of his church.

Caldwell knows that prosperity is a loaded term in evangelical circles. But he insists that “it depends on how you define prosperity. I am not a proponent of saying the Lord’s name three times, clicking your heels and then you get what you ask for. But you cannot give what you do not have. We are fighting what we call the social demons. If I am going to help someone, I am going to have to have something with which to help.”

Caldwell knows that the theology behind this preacherly rhetoric will never be acceptable to Warren or Sider or Witherington. But the man they all follow said, “By their fruits you will know them,” and for some, Corinthian Pointe is a very convincing sort of fruit. Hard-line Prosperity theology may always seem alien to those with enough money to imagine making more without engaging God in a kind of spiritual quid pro quo. And Osteen’s version, while it abandons part of that magical thinking, may strike some as self-centered rather than God centered. But American Protestantism is a dynamic faith. Caldwell’s version reminds us that there is no reason a giving God could not invest even an awkward and needy creed with a mature and generous heart. If God does want us to be rich in this life, no doubt it’s this richness in spirit that he is most eager for us to acquire.

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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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Cult documents to be housed at MBTS

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 | by Tammi Reed Ledbetter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–When James Walker hears of another person converted to faith in Christ after years of deception in a cult, he rejoices at the news. But if that new believer is eager to discard newsletters and books filled with the false teaching that once entrapped him, Walker is likely to respond, “Not so fast!”

What is reasonably regarded as harmful literature can serve to enlighten those who study Christian apologetics. Former practitioners are just one source of materials that Walker and the staff of Watchman Fellowship acquire to build an extensive library of primary source material.

Over the past 30 years, materials from countless cultic groups that range from the New Age Movement to the Unification Church have been collected by scouring yard sales, used bookstores and family files.

Because making such materials available to seminary students will help equip future ministers recognize cultic deception and counter it with a Christian witness, Watchman Fellowship in placing part of its collection at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

“Our institution’s interest in the Watchman library stems from our desire to understand and reach cultic enthusiasts with the Gospel,” Thor Madsen, Midwestern’s academic dean, said. “We trust that expertise gained from careful research in these materials will serve that end.”

Such preparation is essential in a postmodern world in which the desire to find something to believe in remains strong.

“We might suppose that as America gives up Christianity, it will default to naturalism, which rejects all forms of religious belief,” Madsen said. “What we actually see, however, is a turning to all sorts of do-it-yourself, garage-band worldviews, prime examples of which are studied by the Watchman Fellowship.”

It was the frustration of being inadequately trained to answer the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to his doorstep that motivated Watchman founder David Henke to search for literature on the subject, contacting every author or organization for which he could find an address. In 1978 he became a full-time missionary to cults. The organization expanded to staff offices in eight states, involving many ministers with Southern Baptist ties.

Having been a fourth-generation Mormon, Walker walked away from serving as a deacon, teacher and priest in 1976, later studying theology at Criswell College in Dallas. Ten years after joining the staff of Watchman Fellowship, he became president in 1994, developing curriculum materials and leading conferences in local churches and theological schools.

“Our goal is to equip the body of Christ for discernment and evangelism, to educate the community to the dangers of religious cults and to evangelize those lost in cultic deception,” Walker said.

He advises incorporating two elements for an effective witness to someone trapped in a cult: love and authority. An expression of personal concern and interest in the individual as a person, not just a cult member, communicates that love. Then a Christian relies upon the authority of God’s Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. By helping cult members recognize the control being exercised by a person or group and how their faith has been misplaced, they become more open to the Gospel.

Walker combines original cult source materials with witnessing manuals to teach Christians an easy, practical and effective method of opening the eyes of cult members.

Watchman Fellowship’s research library contains more than 35,000 volumes with about 10,000 files on cult-related issues. Original materials produced by groups such as the Church of Scientology, the New Age movement, Unification Church, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the holdings. Duplicate copies are being provided to Midwestern Seminary for use by students and other researchers.

“Our library eagerly anticipates the arrival of these new resources and we will find opportunities to share these resources with our students and the community,” librarian Craig Kubic said.
–30–
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPnews.asp?ID=29451

 

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Is Baptism Essential For Salvation ? Representatives of Classic Christianity Debate with

Dr. James Bjornstad & Rev. David Kingdon affirm that: Remission of sins is obtained by Faith Alone before and apart from Baptism.

Church of Christ Representatives : A Penitent believer must be baptized in order to receive remission of his sins.

 

 

Church of Christ
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Church of Christ may refer to:

  • one of several New Testament designations for a local band of people following the teachings of Jesus, whom they believed to be the Christ; only the plural form is found in the NT (e.g., Romans 16:16)
  • the entire body of Christians throughout the world, regardless of denomination or tradition
  • a body of Christians who continue to use only the New Testament as the source for Christian doctrine and practice and who consider themselves to be part of the original church (in contrast to Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant churches)
  • the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches (primarily used by members of these churches)
  • a number of Restorationist churches:

Church bodies influenced by the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement:
Churches of Christ
Churches of Christ in Australia
Fellowship of Churches of Christ based in the United Kingdom
Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand
Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ
International Churches of Christ, an offshoot of the Churches of Christ
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The churches of Christ (non-institutional)

Denominations with a shared heritage in the Latter Day Saint movement, which include:
Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), the original name of the first Latter Day Saint church, founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr.
Church of Christ (Temple Lot), a Latter Day Saint denomination based in Independence, Missouri
Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, which broke away from the Temple Lot church in 1929
Church of Christ (Whitmerite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Church of Christ (Brewsterite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Church of Christ (Parrishite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Latter Day Church of Christ, a Mormon fundamentalist denomination based in Utah
Latter Day Church of Christ with Signs and Wonders, a Mormon fundamentalist denomination based in Indiana

And other denominations called the Church of Jesus Christ
United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination in the United States formed in 1957
United Church of Christ – Congregational in the Marshall Islands, the largest religious group in the Marshall Islands
Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as Christian Science
Church of Christ in Congo, the administrative and spiritual union of denominations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Iglesia ni Cristo (Filipino translation for “Church of Christ”), a denomination originating in the Philippines
Church of Christ, Instrumental, also known as the Kelleyites, a Baptist denomination in Arkansas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Christ

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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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 momron-magic

 

 

Mormonism and the Magic World View
Author: D. Michael Quinn
Signature Books, 1998
Reviewer: Eric Johnson

MrM.org

Introduction

The story of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, is absolutely incredible. Here was a young man living in the early part of the 19th century who came from a family that could not have been any more common than spring leaves on a tree. As the story goes, he claimed that he was approached by God the Father and Jesus, told that all the churches were false, and commissioned to lead the restoration of God’s kingdom upon the earth, which apparently had been lost for almost two millennia. Today millions of people claim that he is more important than anyone else on earth, save Jesus Christ alone, and that his teachings on God, church structure, and new revelation were divine.

Just what made this modern-day Moses tick? A number of books from both LDS and Christian authors have been written explaining their differing perspectives of the life of a man who lived only 38 years. Some of these books have caused quite a controversy. For example, Fawn Brodie was excommunicated when she wrote No Man Knows My History half a century ago. A historical biographer, Brodie did not mix her words as she described the sordid details of the life of the prophet. Hugh Nibley was so disgusted by Brodie’s work that he wrote a response entitled No Ma’am, That’s Not History. His response was quite a disappointment for many, even those within the LDS community.

But as far as books on the life of Smith are concerned, probably no volume has stirred more overall controversy than D. Michael Quinn’s 1987 first-edition book entitled Early Mormonism and the Magic World View [hereafter Early Mormonism]. (The only single volume that may have caused even more hand-wringing from LDS apologists is probably Brent Metcalfe’s book entitled New Approaches to the Book of Mormon. It caused such controversy that the reviewers at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) dedicated an entire volume of their series entitled Review of Books on the Book of Mormon to criticize it.)

Quinn is a former professor at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University who was excommunicated in 1993 for apostasy based on his historical writings. Instead of trying to deny Joseph Smith’s penchant for occultic activities, Quinn—who says he “remains a DNA Mormon”—concluded that Smith’s background truly did involve divining rods, seer stones, a hat to shield his eyes in order to see hidden treasures, amulets, incantations, and rituals to summon spirits. Smith was a magician first class, Quinn believes, but he holds that Mormonism’s founder was also a man of God who used his magical tools to communicate with the Almighty God of this universe.

To say the book caused LDS leadership consternation is truly an understatement. The original volume, which used numerous “subjunctives, qualifiers, and qualified-qualifiers” such as “possibly,” “might,” and “apparently” due to the insistence of his editors who did not want Quinn to lose his church job, went out of print because “escalating publishing costs” made it so that they could not even reissue a paperback version for the 1987 hardcover price. Also, Quinn asked the publisher not to reprint the book until a revised version was ready. Thus, “by the 1990s otherwise-poor college students were paying $100 for a battered copy, while avid collectors shelled out $350 for a ‘mint-condition’ copy of (it)” (p. ix).

As he pointed out on pages ix-x, Quinn’s changes to the revised version were four-fold. One, he switched to endnotes rather than citing within the text, and he dropped a booming bibliography that he claims would have taken 80 pages to print. Second, he added new information. The third change was the addition of material extremely harsh towards his vocal critics—most of whom are LDS scholars—for the abuse he had taken in the previous 11 years. Finally, he wanted to take care of some errors and refine the text.

To read this book will require plenty of time and careful patience. Early Mormonism is not a book to be rushed through. After all, Quinn is famous for his copious endnotes. The book has 685 pages, and 257 of those pages—close to 40 percent of the book!—are endnotes. (A little more than half of the book is text.) You can’t ignore them, though, because he strategically places very important information there. It is also a good idea to consider his sources. Although he lists no bibliography, the endnotes contain the bibliographic information, and if I would guess, I would say that he utilized more than a thousand resources. Unless you look the individual endnote up, you will not know where the reference came from because he usually gives no hint within the text itself.

For this book you will need two bookmarks, and by the end of the book you will have certainly soiled the edges of the back pages, as you have to continually flip back and forth. (Most frustrating is when you put the book down to get a drink, preferably something caffeinated, and your tome falls from the couch to the ground, losing your place not once but twice. Just get used to it.) The 94 pictures and illustrations just before the endnotes are also helpful to reference.

Is Quinn’s book worthy to be read? This is what this limited review will try to determine from an evangelical Christian point of view.

Joseph Smith: Involved with the magic world around him

Quinn admits that what he writes in his book is not what readers might find in a brochure given out at an LDS temple open house. “Instead, they will discover that the LDS prophet certainly participated extensively in some pursuits of folk magic and apparently in others…. I have found that the ‘official version’ of early Mormon history is sometimes incomplete in its presentation and evaluation of evidence. Therefore, official LDS history is inaccurate in certain respects. …LDS apologists often do not inform their readers that pro-Mormon sources corroborate the statements made by anti-Mormons” (p. xxxviii).

According to Quinn, there is no denying any of the accusations “anti-Mormons” have made against Smith for decades. For instance, Quinn goes into a full description of how Smith and his brothers used divining rods—he acknowledges that they were occultic tools with contact with the spirit world—in their seeking buried treasure (pp. 33ff). Smith was also experienced with the seer stones that would give the owner special access to the buried treasures (pp. 41ff). Even Smith’s mother and father were avid seekers after Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, utilizing these seer stones. Quinn gives a good background to the three seer stones owned by Smith, especially the prophet’s favorite, the chocolate brown stone.

Many Mormon scholars criticize the linking of Smith to divining rods and seer stones and say the evidence is inconclusive. To these Quinn writes on page 47: “Mormons traditionally have rejected outright the nearly contemporary accounts from hostile non-Mormons in favor of LDS accounts written long after the event. For example, Mormons readily accept the accuracy of Joseph Smith’s sermons which were massively reconstructed more than a decade after he spoke. In one instance, the official History of the Church published a 128-word section of his sermon twelve years earlier. This was someone else’s expansion of five words in the original manuscript report of Smith’s sermon. Apologists extend the broadest possible latitude to sources they agree with, yet impose the most stringent demands on sources of information the apologists dislike. Both scholars and casual readers should give greater attention to the reports by Palmyra neighbors of statements and actions the neighbors witnessed.”

Tracing magic footprints from early Judaism into the Age of Reason and beyond, Quinn attempts to show that religious people have, for the most part, always been very involved in these other things. He shows how Christians before Smith’s day were very involved with such things as horoscopes and folk magic. “The majority of early Americans were “unchurched” and participated in folk religion,” he writes (p. 27). Only one of 10 white Americans during Colonial times were churched, Quinn points out, and “several generations of the Smith family were influenced by the magic world view before the 1800s” (p. 31).

The idea that Smith participated in occultic things because they were part of the American society at that time appears to be a very big point with Quinn. He writes, “…early anti-Mormon authors and modern LDS apologists shared the assumption that if Mormonism’s founding prophet engaged in ‘money-digging,’ then his religious claims could be discredited. However, the substantial evidence of their participation in treasure-seeking in no way discredits Joseph Smith or his family. This was even the view of some of their neighbors who had no interest in the family’s religious claims. Magic and treasure-seeking were an integral part of the Smith family’s religious quest” (p. 30).

Quinn is not happy with attempts by LDS Church revisionists to deny Smith’s foray into the occult and folk magic realm around him. While this is the apparent attitude church members have now, it wasn’t always like this, he says. The attitude change began in the 1880s, he says, when the last of those in the Mormon leadership who had been familiar with Smith and the occultic practices died. “Their successors had more in common with denominational Christianity than with the folk religion of many first-generation Mormons,” Quinn writes. “It is astonishing how some LDS apologists can misread (or misrepresent) all the above evidence for the magic use of seer stones and divining rods…” (p. 59). After noting that BYU biblical professor Stephen E. Robinson denied that these things had anything to do with magic but rather were influenced by the Bible, Quinn is very strong. “This is self-parody by an LDS polemicist,” he writes in part (p. 60).

The average Latter-day Saint does not want to dwell on his founder’s penchant for using magic stones, peeping into a hat to help him translate scripture, and frequent outings in search for buried treasure. “Modern Mormons are not simply better-educated than their ancestors,” Quinn writes on page 319. “They are differently educated…. Twentieth-century Mormons have adopted the scientific world view…For children from the age of five onward, standardized public education since the 1890s has left no room for the magic world view, except to dismiss it as ‘superstition.'” In addition, “by the last quarter of the twentieth century, the LDS church also became increasingly authoritarian and obsessed with conformity.” (Quinn should know since he was excommunicated in 1993 for his differences with the “only true church upon the face of the earth.”)

Quinn laments, “Modern Latter-day Saints give little, if any, place in their lives for the magic dimensions of folk religion, the esoteric, or the occult” (p. 320). He disagrees with these modern Mormons, “admir(ing) current Jews, Christians, and Mormons who privately adopt any magic practice that speaks to their inner bliss. Some call this a ‘new age’ religion, but I see it as a very old expression of religiosity” (p. 326).

The facts are that magic and the occult played a huge role in the very foundation of the LDS religion. Quinn works hard to show this to be true, as he factually supports his points. Consider the following:

  • Smith used his divining rod and stone for finding buried treasure as late as the fall of 1825 (p. 54). Saying that Smith’s family and friends were also involved in such escapades, Quinn wrote on page 240: “Joseph Smith (founding prophet and president of the new church) had unquestionably participated in treasure-seeking and stone divination. Evidence indicates that he also used divining rods, a talisman, and implements of ritual magic.” In addition, “two-thirds of Mormonism’s first apostles had some affinity for folk magic” (p. 240).
  • Smith would place his seer stone into a hat and bury his face into the hat “so as to exclude the light, he could see as a clairvoyant” (p. 55). This was supported by such witnesses as Martin Harris and Smith’s wife Emma (pp. 169-173). The fact that the same brown stone Smith used to look for buried treasure was used to “translate” the Book of Mormon is not emphasized by Smith’s followers (p. 172). Yet when Mormonism’s original leadership died off in the 1880s, “LDS authorities typically regarded seer stones as unusual relics of an ever-receding sacred past” (p. 253).
  • Smith was arrested in the mid-1820s “as a disorderly person” because “he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, etc” (p. 56). Pointing out Christian Wesley Walter’s discovery of the 1826 court record showing how Smith was tried in court for being a “Glass looker,” Quinn says many Mormons vehemently denied this fact because they felt this would show Smith to be a fraud. In fact, LDS researcher Francis W. Kirkham stated that “if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him,” thereby making him “a superstitious fraud” (pp. 56, 57). He adds, “LDS apologist Hugh Nibley also wrote that if genuine, the court record ‘is the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.'” However, Quinn, says, this was “a self-defeating line-in-the-sand…to draw, and LDS apologists now accept the transcripts of this 1826 testimony to be valid” (p. 57).
  • While Quinn doesn’t believe that money was Smith’s main motivation for digging for buried treasure, it was certainly a big reason why he did it (p. 65).
  • Smith’s mother Lucy Mack Smith “did not deny that her family participated in occult activities. She simply affirmed that these did not prevent family members from accomplishing other, equally important work” (p. 68). Quinn also pointed out that Smith and his family never denied the allegations of occultism and magic when early antagonists such as Eber D. Howe (Mormonism Unvailed, 1834) produced testimony affirming this truth (p. 323).
  • Drawing magic circles, “which has been central to the ritual magic of incantation, necromancy, and treasure-hunting,” was done by Smith and observed by his neighbors (p. 70; 101). Since Smith owned implements such as a dagger for drawing the circles and seer stones, “it is irrational to claim that the Smiths did not actually use those objects they possessed, which were so important to their acknowledged interest in buried treasure” (p. 322).
  • “Both friendly and unfriendly sources show that astrology was important to members of the Smith family” (p. 72). They believed that the success in their pursuits of buried treasure “depended in a great measure on the state of the moon” (p. 74). In fact, Smith’s mother and father as well as Smith himself and Emma were married on days that coincided with favorable days related to the new moon. Smith founded his church on a Tuesday (April 6, 1830) rather than a Sunday to coincide with the full moon (p. 291). In addition, the children Smith fathered both by his wife Emma and other polygamous wives were, for the most part, conceived in either February or September when his “ruling planet (of Jupiter) governed generation.” Mormon scholars, he notes, don’t like any correlation between astrology and Smith, but “where LDS apologists claim to see only coincidences, I see logical consequences of astrological belief” (pp. 76-79).
  • Quinn wrote: “Throughout his ministry, Joseph Smith affirmed the reality of witchcraft and sorcery. While the 1830 Book of Mormon contained ancient condemnations (Alma 1:32, 3 Ne. 21:16, 24:5, Mormon 1:19, 2:10), his revelations in 1831 and 1832 reaffirmed the reality of sorcerers (D&C 63:17, 76:103)” (p. 291).
  • As far as Smith’s knowledge of occult works and other materials that he could have borrowed from, Quinn says LDS apologists who deny Smith’s access to books are contrary to the evidence. “Newspaper advertisements and library holdings prove access, even if they don’t prove possession or page-turning,” he said (p. 145). “Textual parallels involved books published as recently as the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some of these clearly were available to the Smiths” (p. 322).
  • Palmyra’s bookstores were filled with “sophisticated publications” and rare books that Smith could have accessed (p. 180). “During the 1820s bookstores near Joseph Smith’s home were selling thousands of hardback books for 44 cents to a dollar each” (p. 182). Despite his mother’s insistence that Smith did not read, “he later quoted from, referred to, and owned numerous books which were advertised in his neighborhood as a young man” (p. 192). As far as his familiarity with books on the occult, “the Mormon prophet’s knowledge of such literature is not a myth. The myth is LDS emphasis on Joseph Smith as an ill-read farmboy” (p. 218). Quinn adds, “Of the books Joseph Smith donated shortly before his death, 75 percent of the pre-1830 titles can be verified as either directly available in the Palmyra area or as being promoted there.” A number of these books were out of print for more than a century (p. 189).
  • The idea that the name of Nephi replaced Moroni in the 1842 Smith-published Times and Seasons was not a clerical error, Quinn believes. “Because the names sound nothing alike, clerical error is unlikely in the manuscript recording of Smith’s dictation. The use of Nephi in the manuscript history about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon seems instead to be the prophet’s intentional substitution of another name for Moroni” (p. 199). Nephi’s name is connected with occultism, Quinn points out.
  • A revelation given in D&C 129 in 1843 regarding the determination if someone was a worldly messenger from God or Satan was related to occultism. Smith said a person who wanted to ascertain the difference should try to shake hands with the messenger. Feeling air would mean this was a representative of the devil. The occultic world used a similar test. According to the 1856 Transcendental Magic, which said in part: “What is commonly called Necromancy has nothing in common with resurrection…The proof of this is that spirits, at least the specters pretended to be such, may indeed touch us occasionally, but we cannot touch them…we cannot unmoved feel the hand pass through that which seems a body and yet make contact with nothing” (p. 226).
  • The very idea of three degrees of glory (multiple heavens) is “compatible with occult views. Even ‘degrees of glory’ was an occult phrase connected with the ancient mystical beliefs of Judaism.” Quinn rightly points out that, despite FARMS’ insistence that the idea of the Mormon three-tiered heaven comes from the Bible, “the phrase ‘degrees of glory’ is nowhere in those biblical verses.” The idea occurs with certain English occultists (p. 216). Showing that FARMS was wrong regarding the existence of pseudepigraphic texts mentioning multiple heavens, Quinn declares, “Despite the rhetoric of LDS apologists and polemicists, ‘meaningful content’ occurs within a context and Joseph Smith’s environment included books, practices, and oral traditions of the occult” (p. 217).
  • Although many have presupposed that Mormonism’s temple ceremony has Masonic roots, Quinn disagrees. “I believe that the underlying philosophy and purpose of the two were fundamentally different. Mormon revelation, in fact, proclaimed that the LDS endowment directly restored what Masonry acknowledged it had only some connection with—the occult mysteries of the ancient world” (p. 227). He gave several different examples to support his point, including this: “Freemasonry’s minor emphasis on the heavenly outcome of its rituals was a chasm between Freemasonry and the Mormon endowment. A concept of heavenly ascent was completely absent in many pro-Masonic writings before the 1840s. However, such an ascent was central to the occult mysteries of the ancient world” (p. 229).
    Other fundamental similarities between the ancient mysteries and the Mormon endowment are: “1) Revealed by God from Beginning, but Distorted through Apostasy…. 2) Worthiness of Initiates…3) Washings and Anointings, New Name, Garment…4) Vows of Non-disclosure…5) The Lesser and Greater Rituals…6) Presentation through Drama…7) Oath of Chastity…8) Sun and Moon…9) Mortals “Exalted” to Godhood…10) Prophets, Priests, and Kings…11) Gods” (pp. 230-234).
  • Mormons are taught that the LDS garment is a physical and spiritual protection, sort of like a spiritual amulet or good luck charm. Quinn notes the irony of how some modern Mormons tend to shy away from this view, although a great number of Latter-day Saints still cling to the idea that bad luck will more likely come when they fail to wear the garments. Quinn also show how Canadian researchers discovered that “Mormons use luck-charms and amulets in sports competition more than non-Mormons.” In fact, the athletes used such practices as “double-knotting one’s shoelaces, wearing socks inside out, wearing ‘lucky’ item of clothing, or wearing a lucky charm” (pp. 276-277).

I’m not quite sure what to make of Quinn’s constant point that Smith’s occultic views were not very different from his day. If people are not following God, it is unclear to me why Quinn would attempt to make folk magic appear innocent and even OK. His argument that many Christians of the 18th and 19th centuries believed like Smith is meaningless because Christianity is not a religion about the people who follow Jesus. Rather it is about following the commands and examples given by God through the Bible. Just as we should not imitate the sins of fellow believers (if they are even believers at all), so too should we not legitimize sin just because the culture around us believes a certain way. I think Quinn goes way too far to show how occultism’s roots could exist within true Christianity, which he believes to be Mormonism.

Warning his young charge Timothy of false doctrine, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:4, 6: “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith…From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” Second Timothy 3:2-5 explains what it would be like in the last days: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers…traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”

The Bible is very clear that Christians should be wary of the culture around them. Jesus declared that “broad is the way that leadeth to destruction” while true believers who are few in number should “enter in at the strait gate.” The idea that many people (including supposed professing Christians) from the earliest half of the United States’ history were involved in magic does not give an open license for Christians to follow this example. As the proverbial saying given to us by our parents goes, “If your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you follow?” Of course not. Again it is puzzling why Quinn spends so much time, effort, and ink showing how “Smith learned from village mentors how to use a divining rod; a seer stone; a hat to shield his eyes in order to see hidden treasures; and amulets, incantations, and rituals to summon spirits.” (back cover).

I agree with Quinn when he says “how different from current norms early American religious practices could be.” I just disagree with the idea that these are the types of things God wanted his people to follow when his revelation to us, the Bible, does not encourage such practices.

Does the Bible teach in a magical worldview?

Quinn spends much of the first chapter attempting to disprove the Anchor Bible’s assertion that the Bible “prohibits the practice of magic or presents it negatively in a number of places.” Quinn believes the Mormon founder was not very different from the biblical prophets who preceded him. His premise is that Smith should be deemed a prophet of God if it is true that the Bible is loaded with magical imagery. After all, if biblical prophets were allowed to explore this world while having solid relationships with God, why couldn’t Smith?

Quinn gives examples in the first few pages of his first chapter to show how the Bible encouraged the use of magic, including:

  • “…Jewish tradition also held that King Solomon’s ‘wisdom included his vast knowledge of magic and medicine'”
  • The Old Testament has “neutral or positive references to a wide range of magical and divinatory practices”
  • “Jewish and Christian lore contains many references to occult incantations, to amulets, charms, spells, exorcisms, all related to speculative angelologies and demonologies”
  • The magical power of God’s name (YHWH)
  • “The patriarch Joseph had a special silver cup in Egypt with which ‘he divineth'”
  • The casting of lots that took place in both the Old and New Testaments
  • Moses’ brass serpent that saved the lives of anyone bitten by snakes just because they looked at it
  • A corpse that came to life upon touching Elisha
  • The healing of people who touched the handkerchiefs of Paul
  • Speaking in tongues

Most amazing is that Quinn does more than hint that Smith’s magic was little different from that practiced by Jesus. He writes on page 4, “In many of the miracles of Jesus, the techniques paralleled closely the magic practices of the ancient world…Like Jesus, pagan magicians used spittle to heal the blind, put their fingers in the ears to heal the deaf, employed the same series of separate acts involved in some of the more detailed Gospel healings, and used foreign words as part of magic spells and incantations.”

He adds on page 5, “Some scholars of the New Testament and ancient history have acknowledged that Jesus performed acts which were closely paralleled by magic practices among the pagans. These Christian scholars have insisted that these ceremonies in the Gospels were not magic, no matter how closely they mirrored contemporary magic practices, because it was Jesus who performed them. That seems an assertion of faith rather than a conclusion based on existing documents.”

The Bible’s View of Occultic Magic

While this review is limited, I would like to show why I disagree with Quinn’s premise that the Bible supports Joseph Smith’s foray into the magical world. The Bible very expressly forbade the Jewish people to be involved with such practices as magic, sorcery, and divination. Consider, for instance, Deuteronomy 18:10-11. Among other things, it said no one should be found among God’s people who practiced these things:

  • Divination. This practice involved extracting information or guidance for a god. Examples include Balaam, the soothsayer, who was hired to curse Israel (Num. 22:7; 23:23; Josh. 13:22) and the witch at En Dor (1 Sam. 28). The Bible says we are not to be involved with such practices (2 Kings 9:22; 17:17; 23:24: Isa. 2:6; 8:19; 44:25; 47:9, 12; Jer. 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 13:9; Micah 5:12; Gal. 5:20). According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [hereafter ISBE] under “Magic”: “Though in many lists in Daniel the various types of Babylonian diviners and sorcerers are mentioned without express disapproval, the entire context makes it clear that such arts are no match for one who depends upon God for wisdom (Dan. 2:27; cf. 2:10)” (p. 215). I’ll talk a little more on this in the section below on lots.
  • Spiritism. According to page 789 in Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nelson, 1995): “The root of the word in Hebrew is the verb ‘to know.’ In modern English ‘wizard’ means someone very wise or inventive, a very clever or skillful person. But in the Bible it is always a forbidden thing, a kind of black magic.”
  • Necromancy, or calling up the dead. Again, according to Nelson’s Dictionary: “The Hebrew word translated as ‘magic’ appears only in connection with Egyptian and Babylonian magicians.” The first cluster refers to Joseph in Egypt; the second is connected with the plagues in Egypt; and the third deals with Daniel and the government-sponsored magicians of Babylonia. It should be pointed out that the term is never used in connection with the nation of Israel. As far as the Greek New Testament is concerned, the only time it is used is negatively. Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-25) and Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:6-8) are examples. Another word for magic is related to the English word “pharmacy” and it had to do with drugs. Says the Nelson’s Dictionary: “The denunciations in Revelation 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; and 22:15 apply to those who use drugs to bring on trances during which they claim to have supernatural knowledge or power” (p. 790).

Consider the sources for occultic magic. According to ISBE, “Various magical traditions from the East moved into the West and became, often because of a nostalgia for the ancient and mysterious, part of a growing body of international magical lore. From Assyria and Babylonia came an interest in astrology. From Egypt came an emphasis on the power inherent in the spoken or written word, especially the secret name” (p. 218).

It is true that later rabbinic literature is not unified when it comes to magic. In fact, “while the rabbinic sages were well acquainted with the prohibitions against the various forms of divination and sorcery in the Torah, they were also well acquainted with magical practices. Some even practiced the art themselves” (ISBE, p. 216). Among other reasons, “it appears that they were able to harmonize the biblical prohibitions with the practice of some forms of magic by redefining both” (ibid).

According to ISBE, Jesus was charged several times for practicing magic through His miracles such as healings and exorcisms. “Matt. 10:25 suggests that Jesus’ opponents may have actually nicknamed Him ‘Beelzebul.’ This charge and all that is implies are refuted…(Mk. 3:23-30). In the Fourth Gospel Jesus is three times accused of having a demon, which is an abbreviated way of charging Him with being a fake prophet and a charlatan whose powers to perform miracles come from Satan. Similarly, the accusation that Jesus was an impostor or deceiver must be understood in relation to the charge that He practiced magic, for false prophets and magicians were subject to the death penalty according to the Deuteronomic code (Dt. 13:5; 18:20). Jesus’ Jewish opponents may have used these ancient laws to justify His execution” (ISBE, p. 219).

If Jesus wanted to, He certainly could have credited His powers with magic. However, His work was in accordance to His nature since He is literally God in the flesh. While Quinn would not hold that Jesus is both 100 percent God and 100 percent man, the second member of the Trinity, the Evangelical Christian acknowledges His nature and understands that those things that He did were miraculous, not magical in any way.

While Quinn makes the Jewish mystics seem almost normal for the biblical record, he fails to realize that the New Testament (written after the time when Jewish mysticism had its heyday) condemns the magical worldview. Luke was quite familiar with the technical terminology of magic as evidenced in Acts 8:9-24; 13:4-12; and 19:11-20. “All of these passages describe contests between Christians with miraculous powers and magicians whose powers are derived from incantations and the control of malevolent supernatural forces. The author of Acts carefully demonstrates the superiority of Christianity in each of these encounters” (ISBE, p. 219).

What about Quinn’s list of ways the Bible supports magic? While this was a partial list, let’s consider his points in a short manner and show how these examples do not condone the magical worldview.

  • “…Jewish tradition also held that King Solomon’s ‘wisdom included his vast knowledge of magic and medicine'”
    We are given so very little information about this that it makes it very hard to respond. But we should point out several things: 1) While Solomon was known as the wisest man in the world, he made some very foolish decisions. In fact, it was soon after his reign in the monarchy that the kingdom split into two. 2) Solomon did some very foolish things, including having almost a thousand women as wives and concubines. Should his polygamous ways make him a man to be followed in practice? 3) The Bible doesn’t fully explain what Quinn calls Solomon’s “knowledge of magic and medicine.”
  • The Old Testament has “neutral or positive references to a wide range of magical and divinatory practices”
    While we would agree that the Old Testament is “neutral” in some cases (the types of divination that could be credited to God, such as the dreams had by Joseph and Daniel or lots in the right circumstances), one would be hard pressed to state that occultic divination was fine. Again, based on numerous verses as listed above, the Bible condemns the occultic worldview.
  • “Jewish and Christian lore contains many references to occult incantations, to amulets, charms, spells, exorcisms, all related to speculative angelologies and demonologies”
    Christians follow the Bible, not lore. They acknowledge the existence of Jewish mystics, which appear to have been very popular between the 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. Yet traditions don’t mean much to the evangelical Christian since he or she is a follower of the Book, or written word of God.
  • The magical power of God’s name (YHWH)
    There is nothing magical about the tetragammaton. Rather, it is the holiest name of God. In modern Bibles the translated word LORD is given in all caps to express the holiness of this name. In ancient times YHWH was not even pronounced. In fact, this name is considered to be so sacred among Jews today that the Jewish scroll writers continue to go through a purification rite every time they write out the tetragammaton. There is no magic in this name.
  • “The patriarch Joseph had a special silver cup in Egypt with which ‘he divineth'”
    Because Genesis 44:5 mentions Joseph’s “divining” cup, Quinn makes it appear that Joseph practiced hydromancy, a form of ancient Near Eastern divination that predicted the future. However, while this cup was said to have belonged to Joseph, could it not have been part of the ruse of entrapping his brothers? This may not help detail Joseph’s spiritual practices, as its use was certainly to frame the severity of Benjamin’s supposed crime. It is an argument from silence to say that Joseph actually practiced a pagan divining rite.
  • While we do know that he received revelation from dreams given to him by God—a form of divination known as oneiromancy—we cannot ascertain if hydromancy was a common practice of Joseph. According to ISBE (“Divination,” 1:972), “…the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Arabians, Greeks, and Romans sought to understand the future primarily through the practice of various techniques of divination monopolized by skilled adepts. In contrast, the central way in which the will of Yahweh was made accessible in ancient Israel and in early Christianity was through the medium of inspired prophetic spokesmen.”
  • The casting of lots that took place in both the Old and New Testaments
    Proverbs 16:33 says that “the lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord.” According to ISBE (“Lots,” 3:173): “The use of lots in making decisions, therefore, was regarded as a means of allowing God to make the choice. Lots, though a form of divination, were never a forbidden practice in ancient Israel as were the other forms of divination.” The Urim and Thummim, which was kept in a pocket of the high priest but apparently not used by the time of David, were also tools to get yes-and-no answers from God.
  • In the book of Acts, the disciples decided to nominate another man to fill the twelfth spot. According to Richard Longnecker in the ninth volume of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 1981), “The ‘remnant theology’ of Late Judaism made it mandatory that any group that presented itself as ‘the righteous remnant’ of the nation, and had the responsibility of calling the nation to repentance and permeating it for God’s glory, must represent itself as the true Israel, not only in its proclamation, but also in its symbolism” (p. 265). The disciples did not want there to be any question that the successor was not qualified to become an apostle of Jesus.
  • The two qualifications were that the candidate had to have been with Christ since the time Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and that he was a witness to Christ’s resurrection. Two men were qualified to fill this position: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. The disciples prayed to Jesus before “casting lots” and determining Matthias was the right one (Acts 1:26).
  • What are Christians to make of lots? Does this mean that they should flip a coin when making a decision? Not at all.
  • It should be emphasized that the disciples prayed and used wisdom before seeking God through the lots. (Old Testament passages involving lots include finding a guilty individual; selecting someone for a particular task; dividing the land of Israel; and selecting the scapegoat for the Day of Atonement.) God has spoken in different ways to His people throughout the ages. He walked alongside Abraham. He talked to Moses. And as these passages point out, He made Himself available to His people through lots.
  • Curiously this practice is never again mentioned after Acts 1:26. It was not a normal part of communication from the early church on. This is true because the Holy Spirit was fully given at Pentecost in Acts 2. According to Jesus in John 14:16, the Spirit was not only to be the Spirit of Truth but also the Counselor available to all Christians. “The Spirit was also the Spirit of prophecy, whose departure from Israel had left them with only dice as a means through which God might communicate his will. But now in the wake of the coming of Jesus the Spirit is back, not resting only on a few prophets, but on the whole people of God” (Hard Sayings of the Bible, IVP, 1996, p. 513).
  • Joseph Smith’s practices were no way biblical. And why would Smith not rely on the Holy Spirit for counsel and direction rather than magical practices if He was truly directed by God?
  • Moses’ brass serpent that saved the lives of anyone bitten by snakes just because they looked at it
    According to Numbers 21:8, God told Moses to put a snake on a pole so that anyone who was bitten from the snake-infested camp could look at it for healing. Jesus mentioned this incident as a precursor to Himself, saying in John 3:14-15 that He would have to be lifted up just like that snake so that everyone believing on Him would receive eternal life. (Also see John 12:31-32.) According to the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, “The bronze serpent is thus a symbol and type of Christ. Israel needs to learn that the Lord is sovereign. He uses the serpent to punish; he also uses it to heal in conjunction with obedience and faith” (p. 99). Just as the sick Israelite could look up to the snake for healing, so too sinners with no hope of healing can look to Jesus. As far as magic is concerned, there is no correlation whatsoever.
  • A corpse that came to life upon touching Elisha
    How do we explain Elijah’s going up to heaven in a chariot? How do we explain the taking of the sacrifice at Mt. Carmel? And how do we explain this event? Magic? No. Rather, we would say that God continued to use Elisha even after he was dead in this miraculous one-time event. (It had to have been “one-time” because they certainly would have tried to repeat the miracle with other bodies, but we hear no more about this.) Could Elisha’s departure from this world be any more dramatic than his predecessor Elijah?
  • The healing of people who touched the handkerchiefs of Paul and the speaking in tongues
    We see several ways how people were possibly healed in the New Testament, including Peter’s shadow (5:15), the edge of Jesus’ cloak (Matt. 9:20), and Paul’s handkerchiefs (Acts 19:12). These items did not have magical qualities, but rather the smallest article or shadow was a representation of having contact with one of God’s men. Writes Richard Longnecker in his commentary on Acts, “The virtue, of course, lay not in the materials themselves but in the power of God and the faith of the recipients” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 496).
  • To equate the above as well as speaking in tongues to magic is not a very strong parallel. Christians believe that God certainly heals. The above passages do not say the recipients had faith in the garments or the shadow of an apostle. Rather, as Jesus so clearly stated, a person with the faith (in God) as small of a mustard seed could move mountains. While God can use whatever He wills to accomplish His purpose, it is important to point out that only a faith in God can result in the miraculous.
  • In conclusion to this section, it is understood why Quinn has to presuppose that the Bible condones and even encourages the kind of view Joseph Smith had about magic. However, the evidence from the Bible does not support this view.

Returning the fire back to LDS “Scholarship”

There is no doubt that Quinn has a vendetta in re-releasing his book. His LDS critics were merciless in attempting to destroy Quinn’s credibility and hence his career. His honesty was not appreciated by either the leadership or those who are paid in Provo to defend the church from scholarly critics. Now that Quinn is no longer on the membership roles, he took off the proverbial gloves. He abandoned the use of the “could haves” and “might have beens” and instead became quite definitive in his writing. In addition, it is obvious that Quinn wrote as he pleased because LDS leaders no longer hold any authority over him. After all, what can the Mormon prophet do to a man who is already excommunicated?

With pit bull tenacity, Quinn continually went after the writers from FARMS, an organization that was unofficially connected to LDS-owned BYU and officially connected to the university in 1997. Even FARMS apologist Daniel Peterson wondered if this move would allow him and other writers to keep their nasty edge. Perhaps it is for this reason that Peterson, who has boasted that some of his fellow writers were born “with the nastiness gene,” is Quinn’s biggest target.

Why are the writers for FARMS so abusive in their writings? According to Peterson in the eighth volume of FARMS Review of Books, “We did not pick this fight with the Church’s critics, but we will not withdraw from it.” Peterson has also said,” If we have occasionally been guilty of levity at the expense of some of our critics, this has been because they tempted us with irresistible targets. It isn’t our fault…. A few of us, indeed, may have been born that way, with the nastiness gene—which is triggered by arrant humbuggery” (p. 329).

Quinn does not take kindly to the meanness of FARMS. He writes, “I have allowed my polemical critics to have their decade, not just their day….I believe this eleventh-anniversary edition responds to these LDS polemicists with greater honesty and civility than they have given me” (p. xi).

Quinn defines the difference in his mind between polemics and apologetics. According to him, a person who practices polemics engages in “an extreme version of apologetics. Defending a point of view becomes less important than attacking one’s opponents. Aside from their verbal viciousness, polemicists often resort to any method to promote their argument…. Moving beyond apologist persuasion, LDS polemicists furiously (and often fraudulently) attack any non-traditional view of Mormonism. They don’t mince words—they mince truth” (p. x). We should note that, traditionally, polemics does not have as negative a connotation as Quinn makes it out to be. Rather, the noun just means the “art or practice of disputation or controversy, especially in theology.”

Apologists, on the other hand, “take special efforts to defend their cherished point of view…It is not an insult to call someone an ‘apologist’ (which I often do)…” (p. x). This statement was obviously meant for FARMS writers who, for whatever reason, have taken offense to being called “apologists.” I’ll never forget Daniel Peterson’s attack on Bill McKeever in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5, 1993. In a review on John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s book entitled About Mormonism, Peterson took several pages to divert and tackle an unpublished paper that my colleague and I had written on the “land of Jerusalem.” Listen to the shot Peterson fired at us in footnote number 170, page 77: “McKeever also has the irritating habit, prevalent among many anti-Mormons, of describing those authors with whom he agrees by their academic titles and positions, while referring to those authors with whom he disagrees as ‘LDS apologists.'”

Why was Peterson so insulted at being called an apologist, which really is a simple word meaning a person who practices apologetics (which is the defense of one’s faith)? While many falsely assume it refers to a person who has to apologize, it has no such meaning. Truly this is not a derogatory word, and we at Mormonism Research Ministry have never used it to belittle someone’s credentials. Like Quinn, we who write for MRM welcome the title of apologist.

To show his disdain for those who dislike being called “apologists,” Quinn writes: “‘Polemicist’ is a dishonorable vocation, and I use the term only where I believe it applies.” When referring to FARMS, the word apologist takes a great big back seat in Quinn’s vocabulary, for the most part. Instead, polemicist is the word of choice about 60-70 percent of the time. His disagreement comes because, for FARMS’ writers, “defending Joseph Smith from any association with magic is the primary motivation for their definitional nihilism…. However, the fundamental problem with this tactic of LDS apologists is that denying the legitimacy of the word ‘magic’ or ‘occult sciences’ also denies the self-definition of people before and during Joseph Smith’s time” (p. xxviii).

In Quinn’s own words

  • There is no other way to explain how hard Quinn went after these men than to just list a few of the well more than a hundred pokes he made against LDS writers, especially those aligning themselves with FARMS. Hopefully this gives the person reading this review a flavor of Quinn’s rebuttal to his critics:
  • Referring to Stephen E. Robinson’s denial of Quinn’s assertion that Smith was connected to the occult, Quinn wrote, “I have no respect for the statement of one reviewer who claimed he had read this chapter (6, “Mormon Scriptures, Magic World View, Rural New York”) carefully….This is simply polemical defensiveness: he refuses to acknowledge the existence of evidence he is afraid others will accept” (p. 234).
  • Again referring to Robinson’s critique, Quinn gave a slight compliment before offering additional unkind words about the BYU professor. “This was the only evidence that he might be a sincere apologist struggling for a perspective he could regard as faithful. If that had been his approach throughout the review, I could regard him with compassion. However, throughout the rest of his review, Robinson showed himself as a mean-spirited polemicist eager to use any insult, distortion, mislabeling, deletion, false analogy, semantic trick, and logical fallacy to defend officially approved LDS history. Within that context the quoted paragraph appears as simply a vulnerable-sounding weapon from the arsenal of an unrelenting polemicist” (p. 403).
  • Quinn uses no less than three full pages of his endnotes (pp. 407-410) to ridicule a parallel Robinson made to make light of a point Quinn made in the first edition of his book. Quinn concluded his diatribe with this slam: “False analogy should have no role in any discourse, particularly by a professor of the New Testament.”
  • Referring to Smith’s promise of blessing to a Kirtland Mormon in 1835 who was attempting to find buried treasure, “LDS apologists like Richard L. Anderson dismiss such promises as ‘poetic elements’ or ‘spiritual metaphor.’ This is an example of ‘present-mindedness’ or the ‘presentist bias’ which ignores the historical context and meaning of experiences in the past, and instead superimposes the perspective of the present” (p. 260).
  • Criticizing FARMS writers for doing a “computer search” that he felt was incomplete and truly dishonest, Quinn lashed out, “(William J.) Hamblin, (Daniel C.) Peterson, and (George L.) Mitton presented only those findings which supported their effort to disassociate magic practices and beliefs from Joseph Smith and early LDS publications. If their key-word search did not actually include ‘amulet,’ ‘charm,’ and ‘talisman’ at some point, this oversight occurred because these FARMS authors did not want to find those terms in early LDS publications. If those terms were included, these FARMS authors deceived their readers…. These FARMS authors also claimed there was allegedly no evidence that Joseph Smith even knew about talismans or magic parchments, and allegedly no evidence that Mormonism’s founding prophet would ever look favorably on such occult artifacts. It would not be helpful for the FARMS agenda to alert readers to the founding prophet’s use of this amulet-talisman-parchment reference in Times and Seasons” (p. 271).
  • Criticizing William J. Hamblin, Quinn writes with a humorous edge on page 351: “Hamblin and I obviously see faith and its defense in very different ways, both as historians and as believers. According to his published comments about me, Hamblin thinks that my commitment to historical analysis has subverted my LDS faith. Having read many of his writings, I think Hamblin’s commitment as a ‘defender’ has subverted his historical training. Polemicism has also warped Hamblin’s judgment of what is religious. In his polemical review of Metcalfe’s book, Hamblin constructed his essay to be published with a repetitive left-margin acrostic (‘Metcalfe is butthead’). The FARMS editor discovered this while the article was in press and required Hamblin to change the acrostics, some of which he still left in recognizable form. As ‘a defender of the Kingdom of God,’ Hamblin tried to deceive a religious journal into publishing the kind of graffiti that teenagers scrawl on the walls of public restrooms…. This is another example of how polemics warps the judgment of its LDS practitioners” (p. 352).
  • Referred to FARMS Louis Midgley as “a polemicist without scruples, willing to say anything to attack whomever he regards as an opponent” (p. 401).
  • Referring to the idea of chiasmus being found in the Book of Mormon, Quinn stated, “As I told (FARMS) John W. Welch in a 1995 letter, I have always admired and praised his discovery of the ancient poetic technique of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. However, I believe that he has done a disservice to all Mormon believers by his decades of misrepresenting America’s pre-1830 knowledge of this biblical parallelism. As stated in my text discussion, Hugh Nibley’s misstatements in 1975 occurred because of his lack of access to information that was not yet published or not easily available to him. This was not the case with John W. Welch, whose publication for the LDS audience since 1969, in my opinion, have manifested an escalating, intentional concealments of pre-1830 American publications about chiasmus” (p. 504).
  • Showing that FARMS writers too often shoot off their guns without properly aiming, Quinn writes, “However, (FARMS) John Gee…ridiculed a non-LDS Egyptologist for writing that Michael Chandler sold Egyptian artifacts ‘to members of the Church of Latter-day Saints’ in 1835. Gee insisted: ‘The name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is [thus] given inaccurately.’ That demonstrates Gee’s ignorance of the fact that ‘Church of Latter Day Saints’ was its official name from 1834-1838” (pp. 531-532).

Conclusion

In the first part of this review, I asked, “Is Quinn’s book worthy to be read?” My answer is quite simple. Yes it is. Every interested Mormon and Christian should read it in conjunction with other excellent books on Smith, including Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History and David Persuitte’s Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. No matter what your opinion of Quinn is—whether he offends you because he was excommunicated by the Mormon Church, that he is an avowed homosexual, or that he writes historical books that are not what you might call “faith promoting”—he is not a slouch.

As mentioned in this review, I disagree with several of his views. For instance, I don’t agree that the Bible encourages necromancy, magic, dealing with occultic materials, and the like. But when it comes to the facts about how Smith himself was involved in magic, Quinn’s historical points are well documented and leave little to debate. I appreciate that Quinn seems to be very honest, wanting to know just what the facts are all about. To do any different is to be a revisionist, and that is just not honest, as Quinn makes this a big point in his criticism of Mormon apologists, especially those who work at LDS-controlled FARMS. I give the book a 5-star recommendation, as long as the reader promises to read carefully, slowly, and with a critical mind.

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Apostasy and Restoration

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims that they are a restoration of Christ’s original Church and not just another denomination of Christianity. All other so-called “Christian Churches” are said to be in apostasy. On page 14 of a 1983 booklet titled, Apostasy And Restoration, the corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states, “As Latter-day Saints, we testify that shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles, there came seventeen hundred years of apostasy and darkness. Then in 1820, the resurrected Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet to all the world. Through him came the restoration of the priesthood, the gospel, and the true church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The booklet goes on to say, “We invite all men to test our claims, to know the truth for themselves.” (Ibid., p.14) We will accept this invitation by investigating some of the claims made in this booklet by the LDS Church and then compare those claims to what God says in scripture. There are four underlined portions in the following that we would like to discuss.

Under the heading, “The Great Apostasy- The Dark Ages” this booklet states, “Some may have known that the Messiah’s church, like the Messiah himself, would meet a violent death.” and “Following the death of the apostles, revelation ceased. The authority of God was no longer among men. Christianity sickened and died.” (Ibid. Pgs. 7,9)

This booklet also states, “Though the Messiah himself set up his true church on earth, yet Satan was able to set in motion- even during the lifetime of Jesus Christ and his apostles- those very countervailing forces that eventually led to the complete apostasy of the true church and the eventual creation of an apostate religion that has been responsible for the extermination of the Messiah’s true followers and the persecution of his chosen people, the Jews .The realization that the Lord’s true Church was not only vulnerable, but destructible, comes as a shock to many people. But if wicked men were able to put to death the Messiah himself, is it so strange that they should also have the power to destroy his church?” (Ibid. p.11)

According to the above, The Church of Jesus Christ met a violent death, sickened and died, fell into complete apostasy and was destroyed. This supposedly happened shortly after the death of the original twelve apostles. This is a very important point for Mormonism. In order for their claim of being the restoration of Christ’s Church to be valid, there needed to be a falling away of the original one. Did the first century Church really fall into complete apostasy? What did Jesus have to say about the subject?

Matthew 16:18- And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the Gates of Hades shall not overpower it. There is one major thing that we wish to point out in this verse. The Greek word for “overpower” is katischuo. It means, “against, and to prevail. To be strong against someone, prevail against or over. Used in a hostile sense, meaning to overcome, vanquish (Matt. 16:18);” (AMG Complete WordStudy Bible and Reference CD) The Greek word for “not” is ou. It means, “Not, no, expressing direct and full negation, independently and absolutely, and hence, objectively.” (Ibid.)

The first thing that needs to be realized about the above LDS quote, is that wicked men were allowed to put Jesus to death. Jesus was not overcome or triumphed over. He willingly laid down his life. In contrast to His willingness to die, He said that His church would not be prevailed over. It is a terrible jump in logic to think that because Jesus laid down His life, that He would allow His church to be overpowered also. Especially in the light of the fact that He specifically says that the Church will not be overpowered.

This is a clear promise made by Christ Himself. His church, once established, will not meet a violent death, sicken and die, fall into complete apostasy or be destroyed. We have one of two choices. Either Jesus was wrong, or the Mormon church is wrong. Jesus also stated, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) If Jesus is wrong, then He can not be trusted and must be viewed as either incompetent or as a liar. If the Mormon church is wrong, then there was no need for a restoration and their claims to be the only true church are false.

Another verse, which refutes the idea of a total apostasy, is Jude 3. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Notice that this verse says that the faith was delivered, “once for all.” If it was delivered “once for all,” then there is no need to deliver it again. Obviously Jude, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not believe in a coming total apostasy.

Lastly, we would also like to appeal to the Book of Mormon, for the sake of our Mormon readers. The book of 4th Nephi describes a time when the “true faith” continued to thrive. An official LDS church manual states, “As the original twelve Nephite disciples chosen by the Savior passed away, new disciples were chosen to take their place. This practice evidently continued as long as the Nephites were righteous enough to have a church organization amongst them. The three Nephite disciples who were promised by the Savior that they should live on the earth until his second coming apparently continued to work with the people for several hundred years.” (Book Of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1979 p.450)

We have an unavoidable contradiction. In one official LDS church booklet, the church claims that the apostasy occurred “shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles,” while another official publication says that the work continued for “several hundred years.” In the light of what the Bible has clearly stated regarding the endurance of Christ’s church, it is obvious that both LDS quotes are wrong.

http://evidenceministries.org/mormons.php?viewarticle=46

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BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY = An everlasting Gospel which has endured for “all generations”—never to disappear from the earth. Paul warned about those who would preach another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Jesus prophesied that the “gates of hell” wouldn’t prevail against His church, and in so doing, He ruled out complete apostasy (Matthew 16:18). Thus, the Gospel would never have to be restored (Jude 3). Ephesians 3:21 states: “to Him be the glory in the church…to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”1. How can an apostate church give glory to God throughout “all generations”?

GALATIANS 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.…but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”2.

2 CORINTHIANS 11:3-4: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

JUDE 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all time] delivered unto the saints.” 3.

HEBREWS 12:28: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

MATTHEW 16:18: “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

EPHESIANS 3:21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. A-men”

1 TIMOTHY 3:15: “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

http://www.4witness.org/mormon/lds_exp.php#restoration

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Church of Christ Cult

by David J. Stewart

The Church of Christ is a false religion because it is wrong on the essential Biblical plan of salvation. In fact, many Church of Christ ministers have taught that the Church of Christ group is the true church of Christ, and no one else is. They even go as far as to claim that people who haven’t been baptized by a Church of Christ preacher will go to Hell. I distinctly recall a discussion I once had with a Church of Christ minister. He was arrogant, doctrinally corrupt, and unsaved. He believed that for a person to be saved, they had to have faith, repent of sins, and be baptized. Well, that’s two items too many! The only thing that God requires of men to be saved is faith alone in Christ.

“Repent” in the Bible, concerning salvation, simply means “a change of mind,” not the forsaking of one’s sins. The forsaking of one’s sins is a result of growing in grace, which often takes many years, as a believer grows in the Lord. One does not have to surrender anything to the Lord to be saved, BUT, simply believe upon the Lord (Acts 16:31). The only thing that a person needs to repent of to be saved is their unbelief. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 5:15). A “gift” has no strings attached. Many preachers have developed the bad habit of requiring people to walk down to the front of the church to be saved; BUT, that is a work not required by God. Why does a person need to walk down to the front of the church? Can’t they be saved in their pew? Of course they can! If you’ll simply believe upon Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and save you, then you will go to Heaven when you die (John 14:6; Romans 10:13).

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Carefully notice the phrase, “if any man be in Christ…” The change comes AFTER a person is saved, not as a requirement to be saved. Salvation is like picking an old soda can out of the garbage. You’ve saved it, but it hasn’t been recycled (converted) yet. Likewise, God pulls us out of the garbage when He saves us; BUT, now He must recycle us into His image. Christian growth in grace is not required to go to Heaven. I know this shocks many self-righteous religious people; but it’s Biblical (John 3:3; Romans 4:3-5; Ephesians 2:8,9). If you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you’re going to Heaven, whether you grow in the Lord or not while on earth. There are some lousy Christians in this world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not saved. King David was an adulterer, murderer, and crook; BUT, he only lost the joy of salvation, not salvation itself. Such rebellious believers will give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

‘Baptismal Regeneration’ is Unbiblical

Church of Christ members teach that baptism is required for salvation, but it is not. They believe that obedience is a part of salvation. However, the only thing which we must obey to be saved is the Gospel, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is nothing in the Bible which requires a person to be baptized in order to be saved. On the contrary, we read in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” One who has trusted in Christ is saved, not condemned, whether he has been baptized or not. John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” There is no mention in this verse concerning baptism. Or what about John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Again, there is no mention of being baptized to be saved. There are hundreds of New Testament references which mention faith in Christ, without baptism being mentioned. Clearly, it is faith alone in Christ which saves a person, without baptism. The Church of Christ cult teaches damnable heresies by ADDING requirements which God didn’t add.

A careful study of the Scriptures with an honest heart makes it quite clear that works CANNOT save a person, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified IN HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” One cannot be justified in the sight of God by WORKS. When James spoke of being justified by works, he clearly stated…

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: SHEW ME thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

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James was speaking about being justified in the SIGHT OF MEN. 1st Samuel 16:7 tells us why, “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Man cannot see our heart’s faith, so he looks at our works instead. However, God can see our heart, and it is all that He looks at. It is true that faith without works is dead; BUT, it is equally true that salvation (justification in the sight of God), comes by faith, without works. Romans 4:6 states, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” Baptism is a work, that if added to faith in Christ, will send a man to Hell forever.

Faith + any work = NO faith at all

“Baptismal regeneration” is simply the heretical teaching that one must be baptised in order to be saved. It is a Satanic doctrine, which is responsible for sending billions to Hell. The Catholic Church REQUIRES it’s members to be baptized in order to go to Heaven. So does the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, etc. Jesus NEVER told anyone to get baptized to be saved. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized; yet, we read that Abraham was justified by faith, without works (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3-5).

Conclusion

Please leave the Church of Christ cult if you’ve been entangled in their doctrinal trap. They also deny the existence of a literal Heaven, the millennial reign of Christ, the Rapture, and many other fundamental Bible teachings. The Church of Christ is bad news!!! They focus on baptism so much that the plain Biblical plan of salvation is obscured; thus, they have churchianity without Christianity. So many people go through the rituals and ceremonies of religion, but they never become born-again believers. They join a church, get baptized, sing in a choir, tithe, go through the motions; BUT, they don’t know Jesus Christ as Saviour. They go through the outward form of religion, thinking that they are obeying God’s plan of salvation; BUT, they do not have the change of heart, because they are trusting the church and the form and the ceremony and holding out faithful and many other works of men, instead of depending solely on Jesus Christ. Psalm 118:8 declares, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” I say to the Church of Christ the same thing which the Apostle Paul said to the church at Galatia, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth”? (Galatians 3:1). O foolish Church of Christ, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? You have erred after another Gospel (Galatians 1:6). The Biblical Gospel does NOT require baptism to be saved, nor does it require a person to forsake their sins. Such actions are “works,” and then God would owe us salvation, which is unbiblical (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation is of God, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. Our responsibility is to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31)–and that’s it!

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Church%20of%20Christ/cult.htm

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A Few Troublesome Questions
by Kathleen Baldwin

Have you ever had a niggling question? One that plagues you for years. As a Mormon I had a few. When I became a Christian those questions and inconsistencies went away. However, I’d like to share some of them with you because they are still relevant questions for anyone still in the LDS Church.

1. If God was once a man like us, lived righteously, married, died and became a God, who was His God? Who was God before Him? Who was the very first God? Where did He come from? And how come He didn’t have to be a man first?

2. Why are children sealed to their parents? If they do things right, and make it to the Celestial Kingdom, aren’t they going to go off and be Gods someplace else? Is it just so that parents and children can visit each other? If so, can’t they visit each other without being sealed? After all, they’ll all be Gods, right? or can’t God do that–visit His children?

3. Speaking of fathers and children, why won’t God, the Father, visit His children in the Terrestrial Kingdom? Doesn’t He love them? These are supposedly the millions of devoted church goers, Christians and Mormons, who lived good lives but didn’t quite cut the mustard. Don’t they count? Sure, it’s a nice place, but why won’t He visit?

4. If the temple and its ceremonies were revealed to Joseph Smith by God, why is it so different from the temple and its ceremonies as revealed to Solomon? Or the tabernacle and ceremonies as they were revealed to Moses? God gave very detailed instructions to Moses and Solomon. How come LDS temple layouts aren’t like those? Why are the ceremonies so different? How come the details aren’t similar? For instance, God commanded Moses to make the veil in Exodus five layers thick, woven of blue and purple and scarlet. The LDS temple veils are made of normal white cloth, available for purchase in almost any material store. Doesn’t the LDS Church teach that God revealed the temple as it had originally been established?

5. While we are on the subject of the veil, that thick veil tore in half when Jesus Christ completed His sacrifice. God opened the Holy of Holies. He exposed it to mankind. We were given access to the throne of God, the mercy seat. Why did Joseph Smith hang up a new barrier (veil) between God and man?

6. Now that the government is so liberal, gays are being married, etc., shouldn’t the LDS Church be trying to legalize polygamy? They teach that it is part of the “new and everlasting covenant of eternal marriage.” Shouldn’t they be pushing for the right to exercise their religious freedom? Or would that be a politically incorrect move? Why would they care about social acceptance if it meant compromising their beliefs?

Questions are good things. They make people think. Try asking your friend some ‘to the point’ questions. Maybe when he or she goes searching for the answers she’ll find the truth.

I constantly thank God for answering my questions with the true Gospel–the good news. God is truth, and His ways are never convoluted. May He bless you and your LDS friends with the peace that comes from only Him.

http://www.answeringlds.org/index.html?insTroubleQuestions.html

 

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There are 133 post on this Blog as of today.
I post these links for you all to be able to easily find the post that have fallen off the front page of this blog. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Damon

 

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Church of Christ Heresies! DANGER: Wolves in the Sheep Pen!

by David J. Stewart

Baptismal Regeneration?

Church of God followers do NOT believe in simple FAITH in Jesus Christ to be saved; on the contrary, they most definitely demand that BAPTISM be added for one to be saved. I spoke at length recently with a Church of God minister who earned his degree from the Dallas Christian College. Dallas Christian College DOESN’T make it clear at all that they are indeed a Church of Christ college. Why are they deceptive about who they really are? What are they afraid to tell people? Click on their “Our Mission” link and see if Church of Christ is mentioned. It is NOT! By all indications, many Christian people would ignorantly think this was a great college to attend, but it certainly is NOT! It looks innocent enough on the surface doesn’t it? That’s the disguise they want you to see. I went to visit their website to read their statement of faith; as I suspected, it was vague. But as clever as the person tried to be who devised this statement of faith, it couldn’t escape the discernment of a spirit-filled believer, knowledgeable in the Word of God. The following quote is taken from their statement of faith:

“…the Church of the New Testament ought everywhere to be restored with its divine plan of admission: faith, repentance, and baptism…”

Did you read that? Did you see the heresy? Is baptism necessary for admission into the Church? No sir! The very moment you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, asking Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart, you have been born-again and are a member of the body of Christ. Any fool who tells you that you have to be baptized to become a member of the church is LYING to you! Isn’t it something how misguided ministers will force you to get baptized to join THEIR church, but God accepts ANY repentant sinner into heaven. You do NOT have to be affiliated with any church, religious group or denomination to go to heaven -You just need Jesus! Jesus Himself proclaimed in John 14:6 that He was the ONLY way to the Father. John 10:9 clearly declares that Jesus Christ is the DOOR by which men and women enter into heaven. John 6:40 teaches that the will of God is to believe upon Christ.

As I spoke with this sincerely misguided minister, he explained the following order to me as being necessary for salvation:

HEAR

BELIEVE

REPENT

CONFESS

BAPTISM (uh oh! This is damnable heresy!)

I would agree with him up to the confession part, but not baptism!

“Repentance” is a turnaround (a change of mind about sin and God), not necessarily the departing from one’s sins. You DON’T have to give up your sins to be saved, you need to give up your unbelief. If we did have to give up our sins to be saved, then NO one could ever be saved because we are all sinners. Howbeit, the “godly sorrow” which brings repentance should result in a sincere desire to clean up our life with God’s help (2nd Corinthians 7:10).

“Confess” simply means “to admit the same thing as God.” God says we are sinners, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says we deserve to go to hell, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) into the world to pay for our sins, and we must agree with this to be saved.

But the baptism issue was an insurmountable barrier in our conversation, a Pandora’s box. He was adamant that Baptism was essential for a person to enter heaven. This of course is a lie of the devil, pure heresy! Though he condemns the Catholic religion for their teaching of “works” salvation through the keeping of the Seven Sacraments, he is utterly blinded to his own foolish perceptions about baptism. I flat out asked him what would happen to a person who made it to step 4, but didn’t get baptized at step 5? He honestly replied that he did NOT know! He stressed the fact that he felt SAFER by ADDING that extra step of baptism to his faith. Unfortunately, that is a sure road to hell-fire and destruction.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” -Proverb 14:12

Faith in Christ ALONE equals salvation!

Faith in Christ PLUS anything equals hell!

If I said that I believed I could trust you with my money, that would NOT be faith (that would be optimism). If I entrust you with my money and ask someone to follow you (to keep an eye on you), that is NOT faith either. If I entrust you with my money and don’t take ANY precautions whatsoever, that is 100% faith. To add baptism to faith is to add a “work” to faith; consequently, it is NO faith at all. You don’t need much faith to be saved, you need “just enough” faith. You need JUST ENOUGH faith to obey Romans 10:13 and “call upon the name of the Lord.” If you have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed (a VERY small seed indeed), that is all the faith you need. The AMOUNT of one’s faith is not of importance for salvation, what is important is that you simply HAVE FAITH. Either you have 100% faith or you do not. The Church of Christ minister I was speaking with told me that he felt much safer by adding that extra step of baptism to his faith and repentance. How stupid! How foolish! How woefully ignorant is he of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:17 declared…

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” -1st Corinthians 1:17

According to the Church of Christ minister, Paul was sent by Christ to TEACH the gospel, but not to actually do any of the REQUIRED baptism to be saved. He claims this was done to prevent division in the church. True, Paul didn’t want to baptize any of them because of their immature quarreling; however, this had absolutely nothing to do with their salvation. Some of the believers in the Corinthian church were actually fighting over who baptized them. They were making an issue of a non-issue. Paul lays the issue to rest by proclaiming that CHRIST did NOT send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel. It is our FAITH in the gospel of Jesus that saves us, NOT baptism.

I could go on and on about why baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized. These people who claim that the Old Testament is invalid are idiots. Of course, the law which was against us was indeed nailed to the cross. Yes, the Jewish ceremonial laws are gone. However, we are still expected by God to obey the Nine Commandments (NOT to be saved, but because we are saved and love Jesus). People in the Old Testament (old contract) were saved the SAME way people are saved today, BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:8, 9). There is NO other way to be saved! It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn friend!

Don’t let some misguided individual trick you into believing that baptism is essential for salvation. The Church of Christ minister claimed that since the New Testament didn’t actually begin until Jesus died, that the thief on the cross didn’t have to be baptized. He is trying to say that there are TWO different plans of salvation (one for the OT and one for the NT). He believes that baptism was NOT required for Old Testament saints, but IS required for all New Testament saints. This is ludicrous and preposterous!!!! There is NO such teaching in the Bible. There has always been ONE and only one plan of salvation, and that is through the precious shed blood of our Dear Lord Jesus Christ! Do you want to be saved? Then look upon Jesus ye ends of the earth and be ye saved (Isaiah 45:22).

I asked the minister what would happen if an astronaut placed his faith in Christ while in outer space? Obviously he couldn’t get baptized in space! His answer was another mere, “I don’t know.” How pathetic!!! How can a man go to a supposed Bible college for four years and earn a degree in theology, just to tell me that he doesn’t know how a person in outer space could be saved! I’ll tell you why! Because the whole doctrine of baptismal regeneration is flawed and makes no Biblical sense. He might as well become a Lutheran or a Catholic to believe that garbage. Baptismal regeneration is of the devil. Jesus didn’t baptize (John 4:2). In the book of Romans, baptism is only mentioned briefly in chapter six. Paul NEVER makes any direct command to be baptized! Yet, Paul expresses in Romans 10:1 that it is his “HEARTS DESIRE” for the people to be saved. Paul wanted people to be saved, that is why he went publicly from house-to-house in Acts 20:20 to witness to people. We soul-winners call this the “Acts 20/20 vision.” In other words, if your consumed about winning souls to Christ, then your seeing 20/20 as a Christian. Most believers are wearing blinders.

No Rapture or Millennium?

The Church of Christ minister also said he DIDN’T believe in any type of rapture, but that the Lord would simply return and part the righteous from the wicked. We are clearly taught in God’s Word that there will be a “departure” of the saints from this world; hence, the word rapture (which is not itself found in the Bible). The words of the Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 are as clear as can be. In the twinkling of an eye, the Lord WILL return. Read it for yourself. Why can’t people just take the Bible at face value? Why do they persist to read in-between the lines? Why do they seek for things that God has NOT placed in the Bible? Luke 17:36 is still in the King James Bible folks! Matthew 24:41 is still in the Bible! Two shall be, and one shall remain! This foolish minister also said he didn’t believe there would be a Millennial reign of Christ. Revelation 20:1-6 speaks of the 1,000 year millennium. The purpose of this article is NOT to get into depth of these individual Bible doctrines, but rather to expose the heretical teachings of the Church of Christ. A study of Biblical prophecy is beyond the scope of this article. The Bible is very clear concerning the departure of the saints from this world (the rapture) and of the Millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem over the earth. Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:3).

No Eternal Security?

The Church of Christ minister also said that he believed a saved person COULD lose their salvation if they got away from fellowship with the Lord. I asked him if all Church of Christ followers believed the same doctrines he did and he affirmed, YES. He laughed in my face when I told him that the Bible was clear that a saved person could NEVER lose their salvation. I mean, Jesus told Nicodemus to be “born again,” NOT born again and again and again and again! Revelation 3:20 is an invitation for us to open the door of our heart to allow the Lord Jesus to come in (John 14:23). Church of Christ folks evidently have a problem with Christians who are less than perfect. The minister was perplexed when I told him that a Christian could commit murder and still be saved. He almost became angry. His problem is that he has a WRONG view of salvation (which is why I believe he is NOT really saved). The Church of Christ has a wrong view of salvation! The truth is that we DO NOTHING to earn salvation! If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved? I like that statement so I’ll say it again…

If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved?

I did nothing to get saved of my own merit. All I did was place my faith in the Lord’s work of atonement. It is Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for my sins that gets me into heaven, I had nothing to do with that. Salvation is OF GOD, not man! So then why in the world would anyone conclude that a person has to maintain a certain level of fellowship or righteousness with God to keep one’s salvation? It is no less than a WORKS religion! The Church of Christ is ADDING works to simple faith in Christ! They teach that you MUST be baptized to be saved! They teach that you MUST keep coming back to the Lord (to get your salvation back) every time you get away from the Lord. Listen folks, there is NOTHING in the Bible which teaches that we can fall from grace as believers. When the Bible speaks of “falling from grace” it is simply talking about unsaved people who have rejected Christ. Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven! If you reject Jesus, then you have missed your ONLY buss ticket to heaven. This is the only way to fall from God’s grace.

You CANNOT lose your salvation!!! If someone is not saved now, then they never were to begin with. As a perfect analogy, I cannot change the relationship between my and my own child. I could disown my child (which I think is a horrible thing for ANY parent to do), but they would still be my child. Even if my child killed someone, the relationship doesn’t change one bit -that is still my child and I am still their parent. Such is this case with God! No matter what we do, we are God’s children. If you would like to KNOW your saved, Click Here.

No Tears in Heaven?

More heresy! This Church of Christ minister said there will be no tears in heaven. Well, he is wrong! Over and over we are warned in the Bible to be careful how we live as believers because we each shall give account to God. We are commanded to defraud not thy brother. There will be tears in heaven for those believers who lived for SELF and hurt other people while upon the earth. The blood of our loved ones will be upon our hands if we have failed to witness to them. We can’t force them to accept the truth, but we CAN love them and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. There will be tears throughout the Millennium, but all tears shall be wiped away at the end, after the Great White Throne of Judgment. All former things will be passed away (Revelation 21:4). Being a Christian DOESN’T give us a license to sin. Though our sins are under the blood and all is well between us and God as far as our sin debt, we must still make things right with those we have wronged. Salvation balances the scale of justice between us and God, but the scales of justice must also be balanced between us and those we have victimized or hurt in ant way (Romans 12:19). The Judgment Seat of Christ is going to be a JUDGMENT only for believers, it is not going to be a joyous time for most believers. There WILL be many tears.

Heaven is Not a Physical Place?

I was really surprised when the Church of Christ minister told me that he didn’t believe in heaven as a place. He believed that heaven was only a spiritual existence, NOT a literal place. I asked him about the streets of gold and the gates of pearl, he didn’t believe they were literal. I asked him about the mansions which Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-2, he denied those also as being physical homes. I don’t know what he’s been smoking, but he sure needs to get with the program. He has been blinded by a false religion, sad but true.

In conclusion, I firmly DOUBT anyone’s salvation who ADDS baptism to a childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! I also sincerely doubt the salvation of any person who feels they have to live a certain way to keep their salvation (which is a big lie). The entire MINDSET is very different when you believe you are not eternally secure. Just as the Muslims have no assurance of salvation, neither does the Church of Christ. I KNOW I am saved and NOTHING can take that from me. I CANNOT lose my salvation. So do I have a license to sin? Of course not! I don’t want to sin because I still have to give account to God someday and I already have enough to answer for. I love God and want to please Him, but I fear Him equally so. I became a new creature when I was born-again. I don’t live right to get saved, I live right because I am saved and God’s Holy Spirit lives in my heart. My Bible says that I am saved and sure! Your not just being safe by adding baptism to faith, your being stupid! I can say this because we are clearly warned throughout the Bible against adding anything to faith. Baptism is useless to get anyone saved. See Romans 11:6, Titus 3:5, and Romans 4:2. The bottom line is that Jesus Christ Himself did not make an issue of baptism! Read through the book of John and you’ll discover that Jesus is the door, the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, the light, the Good Shepherd…but not one mention is made of baptism! Not one! The Church of Christ is a false religion, just as are the Lutherans and the Seventh-Day Adventists! ONLY through simple faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ can any person go to heaven. It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn! God loves you, and so do I. I welcome any further information or comments.

Kindest regards, Dave

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Church%20of%20Christ/church_of_christ_heresies.htm

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http://www.cultnews.net/

Appeals court rules that Mormon Church is outside of the Protestant Christian faith . . . . .

In a remarkable decision an appellate court ruled that the Mormon Church is outside of the Protestant faith. The decision came in a divorce decree contempt case by the Arkansas Court of Appeals on October 8. According to an October 9 Arkansas Democrat Gazette piece,

“Joel Mark Rownak and Lisa Monette Rownak agreed in their 2005 divorce to raise their children ‘in the Protestant faith.’ The decree bars them from promoting another religion without the other’s consent. In May 2007, Benton County Circuit Judge John R. Scott found Joel Rownak in contempt of that decree based on evidence that Rownak had ‘candidly acknowledged’ promoting the Mormon faith to his sons.”

Interestingly, Mr. Rownak, who is a Mormon testified that the Mormon faith is outside of the Protestant faith. The court, based on Mr. Rownak’s testimony and “evidence” of that effect from the [Mormon] church’s Web site” ruled that the Mormon faith was indeed outside of the Protestant faith and therefore found Mr. Rownak in contempt of the divorce decree.

The significance of this ruling of course is that both an active Mormon (Mr. Rownak) and an appellate court both agree that Mormonism is not a Protestant church. The other significant aspect of this ruling is that the court has made a ruling on a theological matter. While the ruling was technically on a divorce decree contempt case, the grounds for the decision were theological.

http://wfiprestoncondra.blogspot.com/2008/10/appeals-court-rules-that-mormon-church.html

HERE IS THE October 9 Arkansas Democrat Gazette piece

BENTON COUNTY : Court rules against dad in faith case BY CHARLIE FRAGO

Posted on Thursday, October 9, 2008 http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/239705/

 

A Benton County father found in contempt for violating a custody agreement that barred him from promoting Mormonism to his two sons lost his appeal at the Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Joel Mark Rownak and Lisa Monette Rownak agreed in their 2005 divorce to raise their children “in the Protestant faith.” The decree bars them from promoting another religion without the other’s consent.

In May 2007, Benton County Circuit Judge John R. Scott found Joel Rownak in contempt of that decree based on evidence that Rownak had “candidly acknowledged” promoting the Mormon faith to his sons.

Rownak led his sons in Scripture reading and daily prayer, involved one son in Boy Scouts at a local Mormon church and had one son baptized at the church, according to an opinion written by Judge Sam Bird and agreed to by Judges John Robbins and Robert J. Gladwin.

Rownak argued the contempt finding violated his First Amendment rights, particularly the establishment clause that prohibits the state from discriminating against religion.

Bird wrote that the decree was a valid contract between parties and didn’t violate Rownak’s constitutional rights. He noted that Joel Rownak had requested the language to be included in the decree.

Joel Rownak testified that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints wasn’t a Protestant faith, and the court also considered evidence to that effect from the church’s Web site.

Lisa Rownak had objected to her ex-husband’s promoting Mormonism to their children.

In light of this evidence, Scott was correct in finding Joel Rownak in contempt of the divorce decree, Bird wrote.

At the appeals court, the case is CA 08-193, Joel Mark Rownak v. Lisa Monette Rownak.

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Question: “What is the Restoration movement?”

Answer: The Restoration Movement, part of the broader movement called “restorationism,” began in the early 19th Century when a conglomeration of members from different Christian groups and denominations decided they had gotten away from the basics of Christianity. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others abandoned their formal denominations with hopes of establishing a church based solely on the Christianity taught in the New Testament. With their belief in Jesus as the only model and the Bible as the only sacred book, they endeavored to re-establish Christ’s church as it had been during Jesus’ time. Because the different organized denominations had constructed rules and practices that did not come explicitly from the Bible, those with new ideas felt the divisions must be dissolved. Their goal was for everyone to abandon their dividing religions and become united as one church under God’s rule alone.

Among the most influential leaders of this movement were Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone. Although the fundamental views remained, in 1906 this group split. The followers of Campbell and Stone divided into two sects, called the Church of Christ (Non-Instrumental) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Over time many additional schisms have formed from these core groups as well. Currently there are three major and several minor groups who trace their roots back to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement: the Christian Churches/Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches, Churches of Christ in Australia, Associated Churches of Christ (New Zealand), United Reformed Church (UK), and others.

Among the key principles of the Restoration Movement are:

~Recognition of the New Testament pattern of the church. Overall, the people of this movement try to pattern their practices and rituals as closely as possible to those of the New Testament. Of particular importance to them is the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, although there is nothing in Scripture to indicate this was a weekly function. In fact, Acts 2:46 indicates it might have been a daily ritual: “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (emphasis added). In addition, Acts 2:44-45 states of the New Testament church that they also “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This is not a practice of the New Testament church that those in the Restoration Movement have felt led to adopt.

~Names, creeds, and ecclesiastical traditions divide believers from one another; therefore these things are renounced, doing away with creeds and human authority. While the desire for there to be nothing dividing believers is a noble one, there is no evidence that attending a Baptist or Presbyterian church divides its members from those of other churches any more than attending a Disciples of Christ church divides its members from those of other church within the Restoration Movement. The spirit of unity or disunity is a heart issue, not a matter of church affiliation. Although a key principle of the Restoration Movement is concern for Christian unity, the history of the movement is itself riddled with numerous splits, re-splits and schisms.

~Names of human origin divide, therefore they name only the name of Christ. They decry the use of denominational names, claiming to be “Christians only,” believing this approach to be the only true scriptural one. The adherents to the Restoration Movement are careful to have no other name but Christ in their church titles, believing this to be the true to the New Testament. They deny, for instance, that the name “Presbyterians” has any biblical validity, even though the name is derived from the Greek word for elder, presbytos. Thus, the name reflects its method of governance, completely in accordance with New Testament church structure. Using the name of Christ in a church title may or may not be an indication of a church’s doctrinal stand. As with any group or organization claiming to represent Christ and His church, what they believe, and how it lines up with the Bible, is of paramount importance.

When examining the Restoration Movement, of particular concern is their doctrine of salvation. According to a Christian Restoration Association publication, “What You Must Do to Become a Christian” involves four things: You must believe, repent of sin, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins. One must admit his or her sinfulness and need for forgiveness, then repent and accept Jesus as Lord of his or her life. One must then be baptized by full body immersion for the remission of sins. At this point, it is believed that one begins a new life, and is reborn. This directly contradicts the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, without the added condition of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is not a requirement for salvation, but is rather evidence of it. The new believer is baptized in obedience to God’s command to do so, not as a prerequisite for salvation.

Equally disturbing is the Restoration Movement belief that in order to remain a Christian, one must do four things, again according to the Christian Reformation Association: Pray, study the Bible, worship and remain faithful. If these are requirements to maintain salvation, it stands to reason according to this line of thinking, that anyone who does not continue in these four disciplines is in danger of losing his/her salvation. The Bible, however, is clear that the true believer cannot lose his/her salvation because we are saved by God (Romans 8:30), sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14),and kept by God until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Just as once we are born, we cannot be made unborn, we have been made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we cannot be made old again by any means.

On the positive side, the Restoration Movement has maintained belief in the deity of Christ, unlike the rest of those in the restorationist movement. Great care must be taken, however, to avoid the exclusivist mindset which says “we alone have the right way.” Such thinking leads to pride, the ultimate cause of disunity in the church, the very thing those in the Movement seek to rectify.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Restoration-movement.html 

 

Question: “What is Restorationism?”

Answer: Restorationism refers to a group of unaffiliated 19th century movements from within Christianity based upon the premise that the true faith and practice of the church had been lost due to apostasy and that the church needed to be restored to its New Testament model. Restorationist organizations include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists, as well as the adherents to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, which consists today in three main groups: Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

While all these groups teach widely divergent theologies, they have in common the notion that true Christianity had died out many years ago and it needed to be restored to its original New Testament form. Some of these groups believe they alone are the embodiment of true Christianity, some going so far as to teach that all other groups, including mainline Protestant denominations, are not really Christians at all, having lost their way over the centuries to complete apostasy. They are convinced that the drift from Christian principles is so extreme as to render the church irredeemable and therefore it must be completely rebuilt. Denying that past historical patterns have any validity at all, they are free to embrace what they understand to be pure biblical truth as revealed to the Apostles.

Certainly there have been abuses and misuses of the Word of God down through the years by churches claiming to speak for Christ. One has only to look at the Roman Catholic doctrines of purgatory, prayer to Mary, and the veneration of saints—all of which are completely unscriptural—to agree that in some cases at least, church tradition has superseded the Bible as authority. However, in the spirit of throwing the baby out with the bath water, some of the restorationists have also jettisoned such biblical doctrines as the Trinity, hell, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Of course parts of the church have apostatized, but there has always been a remnant of the faithful preserved by God for His purposes.

At least two disastrous consequences can be expected to result from a zealous embrace of restorationist philosophy. First, it easily leads to a spirit exclusivism and arrogance, not to mention error. The natural outcome of believing one’s own group has the corner on the truth is the despising of all others who claim the name of Christ, seeing them as apostates, or worse, tools of the devil. No spirit of Christian unity can survive such a mindset. One has only to look at the diverse beliefs that exist among the restorationists themselves, and the resulting animosity that accompanies them, to see the inevitable result of adopting such a belief system. Exclusivism leads to pride, a sin especially abhorred by God (Proverbs 16:5; James 4:6). In addition, exclusivism can provoke delusions of grandeur in its leaders, making possible all manner of erroneous interpretations, not to mention rewriting, of Scripture designed to fit it to the paradigm of the group, without regard for clear and concise biblical scholarship and exegesis.

The second, and far more destructive, result of restorationist philosophy is that it denies God’s ability, or willingness, to preserve the faith “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), rejects His sovereignty over His people, and disavows His plan to bring to pass His will without fail, despite attempts by Satan and his minions to derail it. God did not send His Son to die on the cross for the sins of His people only to allow those same people to lapse into apostasy and languish there for 1800 years. Such a notion is not only absurd, but it defines God as a ruthless and capricious entity, not the loving and merciful Father God we know Him to be. Those who believe God abandoned mankind for centuries because of their unbelief and sin need only to read Romans 3, which makes it clear that even though men are unfaithful, this does not nullify God’s faithfulness. The Holy Spirit is, and always has been, active in the world “convict[ing] the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment” (John 16:8), drawing God’s people from every race, tribe, nation and language to the Savior. In every era, the redeemed of God have responded to His Spirit because that is God’s plan, and it will continue unabated to the day of Christ’s return. Until then, we have the assurance of Jesus Himself that He will be with us “always, even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

http://www.gotquestions.org/restorationism.html 

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WHY DO WE OPPOSE MORMONISM?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is, “Why do you do this? Why do you oppose Mormonism? Why do you have this your anti-Mormon web page? Why do you hate Mormons?”

Truth Can Hurt, Even When Given In Love, As Softly As Possible

We know that the truth can hurt and be upsetting, even when given as softly as possible. But it is our Christian duty, in love, to share with you what we know. If your house was on fire wouldn’t you want us pounding at the door. The articles on our web page are like this, to alert you to what the Mormon church is not likely to tell you at their open houses, pageants or when their missionaries come to your home. Some might say we share information like this because we hate Mormons. This is not correct. While we strongly believe that Mormons have every right to their beliefs, we are concerned that people are making decisions about it without all the necessary information. As Christians there are many teachings of this church, such as family, moral values and hard work, we can applaud. We have nothing but warm regard for most of the Mormon people; they make good neighbors, citizens, friends and co-workers. But it is as if their house (any yours) were on fire and we must warn them and you. In reality it is worst than if your house is on fire. Where you will spend eternity is at stake.

We Do Support The Right Of Mormons To Have Their Own Beliefs

We do support the right of Mormons (and non- Mormons) to have their own belief system. But we do take issue with any organization that claims to be:

(1) the only true church, when it isn’t;
(2) a Christian organization, when it isn’t;
(3) and it attacks my Christian beliefs.

If a person’s beliefs are strong and meaningful enough, he or she would want to share them with others. (I am sure this is why many Mormon missionaries serve.) Couple this with God’s commandments that we should tell others (Matthew 28:19,20; 1 Peter 3:15) and we have an indisputable injunction to do this. Also in 2 Timothy 4:2-3 and Hebrews 5:14, we are told to “preach the Word”, to reprove and rebuke, and discern good from evil.

Mormonisn Has Attacked My Beliefs

The Mormon church in one of its scriptures claims to be the only true church on the face of the whole earth (Doctrine & Covenants 1:30). Mormonism from the alleged first vision to the present time has attacked the doctrines of classical Christianity. The Pearl of Great Price, under Joseph Smith – History 1:19, says all other churches are wrong and professors of the creeds are corrupt.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong…all their creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt… (There is more on this under “Joseph Smith’s First Vision.” article D-5 of the web page)

I am offended by this statement. I don’t believe Jesus Christ said this. The Book of Mormon says in 1 Nephi 13:26-28, that the Bible has many “plain and precious” parts taken out of it. 1 Nephi 14:10 condemns all churches as being of the devil. It says:

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… (1 Nephi 14:10)

I am offended by this statement. The Mormon Church claims to be the “church of the Lamb of God” and the only one led by God. The Mormon monthly magazine, Ensign, December 1984, pages 8-9, in an article “The Early Signs of the Apostasy” by Kent P. Jackson, says, starting in the second paragraph:

…the church of the Savior and his Apostles…came to an end within a century after its formation. The doctrines which its inspired leaders taught were corrupted and changed by others…none of the Christian systems that existed after those developments, though they did some good things, enjoyed divine endorsement as the Lord’s own church…To say that Satan sits in the place of god in Christianity … is not to say that all that is in it is satanic.

Page 9 of the same article, says that Satan sits at the head of the Christian churches:

But God is not at its head, making that church – following the appearance in it of Satan – no longer the church of God. To say that Satan sits in the place of God in Christianity after the time of the apostles is not to say that all that is in it is Satanic.

Many Parts Of Mormon Doctrine Are Not Christian

While there are some teachings of the Mormon church I can embrace, too many parts of Mormon doctrine are not Christian. The Mormon God the Father, who has a body of flesh and bones, is only one of a countless number of gods who was once a man, died and was resurrected. He had a mother and father and grandparents ad infinitum. He is married and procreates all the spirits of the people who have been and will be born on this earth. The Mormon Jesus was not always God, but was the first-born spirit offspring of God, and the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. He is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Mormonism once taught that Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, became pregnant with Jesus by her Heavenly Father, the Mormon God, in the same literal way a husband and wife procreate children. In the same way we were conceived by our parents. Many Mormons don’t want to believe this doctrine, so we urge all to see the Family Home Evening manual, copyrighted 1972, pages 125, 126, lesson 27 “Whom Say Ye That I Am?” Other references are found in Gospel Principes, Chapter 2, first two paragraphs and all of chapter 47 (1997 edtion). This last reference can be found on a Mormon web page at http://www.lds.org/library/gos_pri/gos_pri.html There is more on these teachings of the Mormons church, with references, in article B-2.

Unique Mormon Doctrine Not Openly Taught

I believe the Mormon church’s teaching program is not open and honest (there is more on this under “What The Mormons Don’t Say” article B-8). If the Mormon missionaries clearly taught the doctrines outlined above and they were easily available at open houses and pageants, people like myself would not need to have a web pages. But then very few people would join the Mormon Church. LDS say they do not teach the “deep doctrine” because people need “milk” first. Would you accept as legal tender a $20 bill that had a picture of Mickey Mouse on it? Of course not. Counterfeiters make their bills to look like the real thing. So do counterfeit religions.

In Summary

So “Why do we speak against Mormonism?” We do it because we must defend our beliefs from the attacks of the Mormon Church and tell people, as commanded by God, about the biblical Jesus Christ and his gospel. See article B-2 for a side by side comparison of what the Mormon church teaches compared to what the Bible says.

Jude 1:3 tells me to “…earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

John Farkas Berean Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 1091, Webster, N.Y. 14580

http://www.bcmmin.org/whydoit.html

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I posted this article in a MSN group that I visit. The “Church of Christ” is not the “one true church”! It is a Cult. By Damon WhitsellI was asked this question,,, “Why does the CoC rate the label “cult” over “heretical”?”, then the questionnaire ask a series of questions voicing his concerns about me referring to the “Church of Christ” as a cult.

What follows is my response.

I would be happy to help out. You said,

QUESTION: “Usually these revelations are presented as truth by a leader who is proclaimed to be a prophet of some kind and whose teachings and writings are considered to be an addition to Scripture and of equal or near equal authority.”

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Responce: The COC claims that all individual congregations are autonomous but in reality they have many “Scholars” that write manuals for them. That is why no matter where you go you here the same arguments and rhetoric from the majority of them. They do not have any extra biblical books such as the Mormons book of Mormon, Doctrine and covenants and the Pearl of great price. They do not have a “prophetical figure“ dispensing “new revelation from God”. But these manuals by COC scholars are considered a “New way” of understanding biblical truth.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups practice one form or another of shunning.

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Responce: The COC is authoritarian in that they claim to be the “only true Christ of Jesus” and only they have the way of salvation. The claim is made that the NT church of Jesus and the apostles ceased to exist and had to be “restored”. They are a part of the restoration movement. You can read more HERE. http://www.how2becomeachristian.info/restorationism.htm

If your not of the COC your shunned as not a real Christian. If you are COC and leave to go to another denomination you are shunned as having left the one true church and forfeited your salvation. This is demonstrated in Sissy’s thread The Church and the doctrine of Christ and many other threads and a considerable number of her post in other thread topics. Can we count the number of threads that have been hijacked by Sissy and her claim to be sinless and her claims that we too must be sinless to be saved?

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QUESTION: Usually said groups reject that salvation is possible by any other means than a strict embracing and adherence of/to their extra-biblical doctrines.

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Responce: This is the case with the COC. Their doctrine of baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism as opposed to Grace) is thoroughly non-biblical. And so is their claim to be the “one true” or restored church. Their denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit rejects the biblical triune nature of God. I am glad you asked the next question.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups are legalistic and have strict codes of compliance.

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Responce; 2 COC members here have started at least a dozen threads promoting their doctrine of sinless perfection. According to them your not saved unless you sinless. The sinless perfection (or entire sanctification) is not exclusive to the COC. Many Christian pseudo-cults employ and advocate it. At the same time not many COC churches and believers adhere to it. But they do employ an overbearing attitude and practice of legalism. The practice of legalism is employed in all Christian cults. See my article CULT UNITY ? By Damon Whitsell

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Cult apologetics pioneer Walter Martin defined a cult as follows,, In his 1955 book The Rise of the Cults: An Introductory Guide to the Non-Christian Cults, Martin gave the following definition of a cult: “By cultism we mean the adherence to doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity and which yet claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”

These “essential Christian doctrines” are alomost universally agreed among cult apologetics ministries to be 1. the Trinity 2. the full deity and humanity of Christ 3. the spiritual lostness (need for salvation) of the human race 4. the substitution atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ 5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone

Link here— >>>>Watchman Fellowship’s 2001 Index of Cults and Religions (which list well over a hundred cult entries) states that a cult is Cult= “By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous. Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers’ lives. In addition to these usages, Christians generally have a doctrinal component to their use of the word. Cult in this sense, is a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity. Watchman Fellowship usually uses the term cult with a Christian or doctrinal definition in mind. In most cases the group claims to be Christian, but because of their aberrant beliefs on central doctrines of the faith (God, Jesus, and salvation), the organization is not considered by Watchman Fellowship to be part of orthodox, biblical Christianity. Research material and Profile are available.”
This is their entry for the COC.

“Churches of Christ: The independent Churches of Christ movement was one of several associations and denominations that developed from Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone’s restoration movement of the early 19th century, which was designed to promote unity among Protestants. Many (but not all) Churches of Christ today, however, differ from traditional Protestant doctrine in two key areas. Many maintain that water baptism and/or other commandments (rather than salvation by grace through faith alone) are a requirement for salvation (see Baptismal regeneration, Salvation by works). Some also believe that today’s Churches of Christ are the only true churches on earth and that they can literally trace their history to the first century church in Jerusalem. “

Not all COC congregations and COC members are aberrant or heretical to the point of apostasy that they are labeled a cult or cult members. From my reading of (“members who have left the COC”) these figures are stated between 20% and 70%.

From my article,,, Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS link HERE

UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY

A few months ago I was engaged in debates at factnet ( a cult watch ministry ) with followers of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel. They can be called a Christian cult because they do not hold to essential doctrine. They cannot be called a denomination or a true church. They have nothing in common with others that call themselves Christian except for the name Christian. They hold an unorthodox view concerning the nature of God, man, sin and salvation. From non essentials such as the heresy of pre-existence to the heresy of anglo-Isrealism, to the essentials of God, man and salvation by grace not works or genetics, they are unorthodox to the core. They are not unified within diversity as real Christians are. They are isolated and don’t have unity with those who hold to essential doctrines. Let me explain what I mean by unity with in diversity.

My phone book list about 20 different local Christian churches. Among them are denominations and non denoms and Christian cults. I can go to most of those churches and have much unity in beliefs with them, especially concerning Jesus. In essentials unity, in non essentials liberty and in all things love. Some I could not attend at all because they are diametrically opposed to essential orthodox Christian beliefs, but we must remember that they are cults by virtue of their unorthodox teachings.

Christians churches and denominations enjoy a shared unity within diversity about beliefs concerning God, man, sin and salvation amongst all non cult denominations and non denominational churches. But a follower of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s chapel cannot enjoy that same unity with other local churches. To fellowship they have to travel to Arkansas or do their fellowshipping online with other Shepard Chapelers. They are isolated, exclusive and authoritarianistic because of their beliefs.

There are beliefs that are essential to orthodox Christianity. There are beliefs that are important but not essential. And there are beliefs that have no relevance at all concerning orthodoxy such as eschatology. Because most of these churches hold to essential doctrines they could be called essentially Christian but some would have to be called Christian cults because they are not Christian by virtue of the essence of their beliefs about Jesus Christ yet still apply the term Christian to themselves.

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A Mormon Apologist by the name of CC submitted a response to ALL 17 of the claims in this post 17 Little Known Facts About the Mormons

What follows is PART 2 Facts 10-17

1. the 17 facts as stated by Challengemin.org
2. CC’s comments. (You can see CC’s original comments for verification on the above post comments section)
3. my (Damon’s) counter comments.
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FACT #10 Mormon leaders demand total obedience regardless whether they are right or wrong.
The ward teacher’s message for June, 1945, stated:
“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan it is God’s plan.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354)
Herber C. Kimball, First Councilor to Brigham Young, clarifies further:
“But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 32)
The Bible warns us in I John 4:l:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
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CC: “The following quote is a very controversial quote in Mormon circles: “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan it is God’s plan.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354)

Visit any Mormon blogs and you’ll see for yourself that we do plenty of thinking for ourselves. If I remember correctly, that quote was an opinion piece and I don’t even know who wrote it, but it doesn’t accurately portray the truth. It makes it sound like we just blindly follow our leaders. It also contradicts what our leaders are always teaching us—that we should gain a testimony of whether what they teach is true or not. Ultimately our “prophets and apostles” teach that we should obey God because of our love for Him. Just as Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.”
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DAMON: Controversial? It should be a source for revolution and mass exodus from the LDS church in my opinion. It is a strange dilemma that CC proposes, God has appointed “prophets and apostles” in the lds church,,,, but what they say really has no authority, Mormons only follow God. BUT if the Prophets and apostles speak, WHO ARE THEY SPEAKING FOR??? God or the church?
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FACT #ll. Mormon leaders have consistently attacked the Biblical doctrine of Salvation by God’s Grace through Faith alone.
In Apostle James Talmage’s book, The Articles of Faith, twice he refers to justification by Faith alone as a “pernicious doctrine,” and further declares:
“The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith alone has exercised an influence for evil.” (pp. 107, 480)
The Bible responds:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 1)
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CC: “I’m not sure at all why this “fact” is still being brought up by Mormon critics. Anyone who reads the text of the Book of Mormon themselves can see how compatible it is with the Bible and that no matter what works we manage to do, they do not save us. We are ultimately saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve written on this topic multiple times on my own blog because people who I tried to explain this to didn’t believe me. And I’m just not buying this fact one bit.

Mormon leaders have never attacked Biblical doctrine, since we believe every single verse in the Bible. However, they may have disagreed with the erroneous belief that we are saved without any effort or commitment on our part. We believe that we actually have to respond appropriately to Christ’s grace so that we can be saved, and that we respond appropriately by having faith in Christ, repenting of our sins throughout our life, entering into a covenant with Him by baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost, which purifies and sanctifies us and changes our nature.”
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DAMON: CC says “Anyone who reads the text of the Book of Mormon themselves can see how compatible it is with the Bible” I AGREE. The Book of Mormon teaches against Mormon doctrine and agrees with some Christian doctrine. But on the issue of salvation it say “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. After all we can do” 2 Nephi
25:23
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FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.
McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:
“… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)
In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
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CC: “That’s actually taken out of context. In that particular speech Elder McConkie was warning against emphasizing a special relationship with one particular member of the Godhead while neglecting the other two. Apparently there were some BYU students who were teaching that those with a special or advanced relationship with Jesus can pray directly to Him, but Jesus commanded that we pray directly to our Father, and His Father, but in the name of Jesus Christ.”
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DAMON: I am surprised that we did not hear the “well McConkie was kind of a loose cannon and his words are not our cannon” argument again. McConkie said much more about the subject of having a relationship with Jesus.

While it is true that Jesus instructed us to pray to the Father, Stephen recognized that praying to His Savior was right and the early Church were known as those who “called upon the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:14; 21; 22:16; 2 Cor. 1:2). 3 Nephi 19:17-26 records an incident where Christ is being freely prayed to: “And behold they [Christ’s disciples] began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling Him their Lord and their God” (v. 18).
Verse 24 states that the disciples “…did still continue, without ceasing to pray to him…”
Verse 25 says that “…Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him…” The final result of the disciples prayer is recorded in verse 26: “And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray.”
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FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.
Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)
No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.
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CC: “The quote in which Joseph Smith seems to boast is an interesting one. To understand the issues, we must remember:

1. It is not based on Joseph’s own writing; it is an account written after his death
2. Joseph was using a scriptural passage by Paul, and applying it to his own situation–the idea of “boasting” was Paul’s, not Joseph’s.

What was Joseph’s intent, and why did he use this approach? As it turns out, he was drawing from the Bible and applying its lessons to his own situation.

In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. The statement about “boasting” was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians 11 to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:

“Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking it as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly.” (2 Cor. 11:16-19, NASB)

Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.

In short, Joseph is using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)–he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.
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DAMON: WOW, it is amazing how some people will stretch things to justify them.

CC SAID “To understand the issues, we must remember: 1. It is not based on Joseph’s own writing; it is an account written after his death 2 Joseph was using a scriptural passage by Paul, and applying it to his own situation–the idea of “boasting” was Paul’s, not Joseph’s.”

We’ll look at # 2 first. Paul did not say he was greater than Jesus, Joseph Smith did. There is no context that can justify his heretical statement.

It is foolish to say that Joseph was AS CC SAID: “using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)–he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.”

The issue is not persecution but Joes arrogance. Regardless of Joe’s or Paul’s persecution, Jesus is the name that is above every name.

Paul said Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

Joseph Smith said “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.”

CC’s #1 claim that “1. It is not based on Joseph’s own writing; it is an account written after his death “ is a joke. If the account is written after Joseph Smiths death, then just who is speaking for Joe, wasn’t he dead already? Does the Mormon Church write in it’s leaders words after they are dead?
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FACT #14. In 1835 Joseph Smith prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord.
At a meeting called by Joseph Smith he instructed the Latter-day Saints that it was “the will of God” to go forth and “prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh-even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 182) Eight years later he reinforced this by stating:
“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written – the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till 1 am eighty-five years old.” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 336)
These are obvious False Prophesies which would make Joseph Smith a False Prophet.
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CC: Nobody is sure if Joseph actually said this particular quote, because there is no other evidence that he did. But even if he did, it still does not qualify as a prophecy. There’s a big difference between the word “should” and “would”, as there is between “perhaps” and “will”.

Joseph’s belief was not that the Lord would come by the time of his 85th birthday, but rather that the Lord would not come before that time, which of course was a correct prophecy.

The Savior while here on earth told us that no one on earth knows when the Lord will return: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Because we do not know, we need to constantly be ready for his return, for “in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matt. 24:44). Joseph was very familiar with the Bible.

However, Joseph Smith did make several interesting statements about seeing the Savior. One of them is a favorite of our detractors. They have misquoted it, misreported it, misinterpreted it and misexplained it. Most often they simply do not complete the quote, making it appear that the prophet said something he didn’t.

The passage in question is found in Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is reported in abbreviated form, and Joseph acknowledged as he recorded it that he didn’t understand the meaning or intent of the revelation. Joseph Smith recorded:

“I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.” (D&C 130:14-15).

Many of our detractors end the quote at this point, and then they assume that the statement is a prophecy that the Savior would come in the year 1890 or 1891, since the prophet Joseph was born in 1805. However, if the reader will continue further in that passage, he will see that Joseph Smith himself stated:

“I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face” (D & C 130:16).

We only learn what the prophet did prophesy by reading verse 17: “I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.” Without a doubt, that prophecy came true. The Lord did not return to the earth for His Second Coming before that time.
Joseph made reference to the incident on at least two other occasions, and indicated that his belief was not that the Lord would come by the time of his 85th birthday, but rather that the Lord would not come before that time, which of course was a correct prophecy. And Joseph felt very strongly that he wouldn’t live that long, and that his life would be taken, which, of course, it was.
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DAMON: CC SAID “Nobody is sure if Joseph actually said this particular quote, because there is no other evidence that he did”

What does CCC mean. the fact that it is in the official Mormon book THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, proves he said it. And the Mormon church calls it history. In reality Joseph Smith made many false prophecies. But we will get to some of those after we look at his claim that AS CC SAiD “Joseph’s belief was not that the Lord would come by the time of his 85th birthday, but rather that the Lord would not come before that time, which of course was a correct prophecy.”
Look at Smiths own words in “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.” (D&C 130:14-15).

When Smith said “if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man” he was prophesying a positive, that if Joseph Smith had lived to be 85 he would see the face of the son of man. Meaning that Jesus would return by the time Joe turned 85. This phrase disproves CC’s assertion that Joe was prophesying a negative, that Jesus would NOT return before Joseph was 85.

Lets look a few other False prophecies of Joseph Smith. Here is one to show that Joseph Smith indeed taught that Jesus would come in his generation,,,

“President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit. He then gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending us while journeying to Zion–our trials, sufferings; and said God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh–even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, Vol. 2:189)

Here is one that shows The temple would be rebuilt in Missouri in Josephs day,,

“Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion,i which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. 3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. 4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. 5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house… 31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.” (Doctrines and Covenants 84:2-5,31.)

AND MY FAVORITE,,,,,

“I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 394).”
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FACT #15. Mormons are taught to “shake hands” with a messenger to determine if he is from God or if he is the devil.
The following information is found in Mormon scripture:
“When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. . . . If it were the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.” (Doctrine and Covenants 129:4, 5,
Rather than trusting in “feelings” the Bible commands us to:
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)
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CC: “ This seems kind of amusing, if not somewhat hypocritical, that critics will claim to be experts on what Mormons are taught and believe. I feel safe in saying that I am the world’s authority on what I personally believe and what I have been taught as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The scripture referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants speaks for itself. We also believe the quoted Bible scripture as well. Perhaps this “fact” is brought up, like so many others, for some “shock value”?”
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DAMON: Yes it is amusing and shocking that people would follow a religion that says such things in their inspired writings.
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FACT #16. Brigham Young claimed that those who leave the Mormon Church would turn “wrinkled” and “black.”
The following curse was pronounced by Brigham Young:
“. . .but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332)
There have been tens of thousands of people leave the Mormon Church – Where are the “black and wrinkled” ones?
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CC: “I have tried and tried and have not been able to locate this particular quote by Brigham Young, but I can comment on Brigham Young’s homilies in “Journal of Discourses”. He said a lot of things that are useful and sound, but he also said a few things that would raise eyebrows of a modern reader. Even prophets are products of their times, and Brigham Young was certainly no exception. Naturally, he was not perfect. Only Christ lived a life of perfection.
Brigham Young, like the majority of American Christians of the time, even seemed to believe in racial inequality. That is to be understood. Latter-day Saints do not expect their leaders to be infallible. Moreover, “Journal of Discourses” is not official doctrine of the LDS church. It’s a collection of sermons and homilies from and for a very different time period than today.”
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DAMON: CC said “I have tried and tried and have not been able to locate this particular quote by Brigham Young” the quote showed it’s source (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332)

BUT what else does the Mormon church say about those that leave? Mormonism claims to be the one true restored church and it’s leaders have openly bashed Christianity until the last 20 yrs. See what Mormons teach about the Mormon Church, Christianity and by default, those who leave the Mormon church.

So Joel Osteen says Mormons are Christians, But what do Mormons say about Christianity?

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FACT #17. Joseph Smith taught the moon was inhabited by people who dressed like Quakers and lived to be about 1000 years old.
In the Mormon publication, The Young Woman’s Journal, pp. 263 & 264, O.B. Huntington gives this interesting information:
“As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He [Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”
Now that man has walked on the Moon, there can be no doubt that there aren’t any 6 foot tall Quakers roaming its surface.
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CC: “It’s almost laughable isn’t it? I actually think Joseph intended it to be that way.
Critics claim that Joseph Smith taught that the moon was inhabited, and that this is proof he was a false prophet. They’ll also fail to tell you about all of his real and fulfilled prophecies too.

Nevertheless, the source for this particular claim is not Joseph Smith himself; the first mention comes in 1881 in Oliver B. Huntington’s journal, who claimed that he had the information from Philo Dibble. So, we have a late, third-hand account of something Joseph is supposed to have said. Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young apparently both expressed their view that the moon was inhabited, but we allow all men to have their own views/opinions. To say that if they were truly “prophets” they should have known better than the science of the day would also condemn many prophets in the Bible too.

Prominent scientists of Joseph Smith’s day had published their views of the possibility of people living on the moon. I’m not trying to beg the question; only wanting to keep this brief and in my “own words”. But I could provide references if desired. Suffice it to say that LDS doctrine was not provincial, since it provided for “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33) created by Christ. These worlds held those who would require the gospel, since by Christ “the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:24).

As always, prophets and believers are products of their time. Biblical authors, for example, clearly accepted a geocentric (earth centered) cosmos, with a flat earth and heavens supported by four pillars. Like the authors of the Bible, modern prophets are generally beholden to their era’s scientific concepts. I personally think that if Joseph Smith actually said something about the appearance of people on the moon, he was doing it in jest; making a wise-crack about the common speculation. He often used humor to make a point. And Brigham Young was known to often use hyperbole.”
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DAMON: CC SAID “I personally think that if Joseph Smith actually said something about the appearance of people on the moon, he was doing it in jest; making a wise-crack about the common speculation. He often used humor to make a point. And Brigham Young was known to often use hyperbole”

I personally find this laughable that a Mormon would go to such lengths to cover for their founder. This is not a joke or hyperbolic poetry or anything, it is a Mormon who knew Joseph and he says “I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth”

That was not Joseph or Bingham and the man was hardly kidding or speaking in hyperbolic or humorous fashion.

CC says that prophets are a product of their times (and their then current scientific knowledge), that is just false. Prophets are a product of God. CC goes on to give this patently false example that even bible prophets are products of their own times when he says “Biblical authors, for example, clearly accepted a geocentric (earth centered) cosmos, with a flat earth and heavens supported by four pillars”

The bible does not teach a flat earth. The Bible teaches that the earth is basically a sphere in shape. Isa 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.

The Biblical term “Four corners” does not infer the flatness of the earth, but it is an idiom that means ALL. When it says the four corners of the earth, it means ALL of the earth. And although the bible does use the analogy of the earth sitting on pillars to denote Gods’ power and sovereignty over it, the bible clearly says. Job 26:7 He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.

Therefore I conclude that CC’s assertion that “It’s almost laughable isn’t it? I actually think Joseph intended it to be that way” is a joke. NO, to think that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and would be so influenced by his contemporary science that he would say such a things is very very alarming. But to have a Mormon say their prophet and all prophets are a product of their times and and then say He was joking,,, don’t ya get get it. Joseph Smith was just joking,,,, is downright disturbing.
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MY PERSONAL CONCERNS are for the Mormon people who believe in an organization and prophet that has so many problems and pesky little things they always have to answer for like the 17 facts listed in this by Challangemin.org

We see that CC admits that Mormonism is different and that even Christian terms mean different things to Mormons and Christians. It is only rational to discern from this alone, that Mormonism is not Christian, but it does try to be a redefined Christianity and claims to be Gods restored truth and Church.

But we have seen CC say in his defense of Mormonism that Mormons both believe “EVERY WORD” in the bible and then turn right around and say , “as far as it is translated correctly.”
This is the kind of disregard for logic and the law of non contradiction that Mormons have to make to believe in Mormonism.

SO DO YOU THINK MORMONISM IS CHRISTIAN???

Here is more Mormon post on this blog.

DNA proves the Book of Mormon to be fals

So Joel Osteen says Mormons are Christia

17 Little Known Facts About the Mormons

Are Mormon and Christian beliefs the sam

A logical proof that Mormonism is false!

The Mormon Testimony: does your bossom b

The Heresy of Restorationsim by Damon Wh

(Mormonism and ) ANOTHER JESUS? By Ed De

LDS: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-da

Is Mormonism Christian ?

Mormon Dilemmas by Damon Whitsell

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A Mormon Apologist by the name of CC submitted a response to ALL 17 of the claims in this post 17 Little Known Facts About the Mormons

What follows is,,,

1. the 17 facts as stated by Challengemin.org

2. CC’s comments. (You see CC’s original comments for verification on the above post comments section)

3. my (Damon’s) counter comments.

FACT #1 The Mormon Church teaches ALL other Churches are WRONG; ALL their creeds are an ABOMINATION in the sight of God; and ALL their teachers are corrupt.

One of the Mormon Books of Scripture, The Pearl of Great Price, says this about non-LDS churches:

“… they were ALL WRONG; and the Personage who addressed me said that ALL their creeds were an ABOMINATION in his sight; that those professors were ALL CORRUPT;…” (Joseph Smith 2:19).

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CC: “The truth about this “fact” is that The LDS Church teaches that all churches have some truth, just not the fullness of the truth. This particular quote refers to the creeds of the churches that we believe are wrong, but not that all the individual Christians who follow them are wrong in their sincere desire to follow Christ the best they know how.”

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DAMON: Mormonism is built on the First visions of Joseph Smith. And while there are 3 contradictory accounts of this First vision, they all agree in making the false assertion that Christianity is apostate and an abomination to God. Mormonism has this in common with all church’s (Christian cults) that started from Campbell’s Restoration Movement.

This post shows what Mormon leaders have always said, and still do say about Christianity.

So Joel Osteen says Mormons are Christians, But what do Mormons say about Christianity?

This post will teach those that are nor familiar with the restoration movement and restorationism, that the claim that Christianity had become apostate and needed to be totally restored, is common to ALL CULTS. The Church of Jesus Christ of later day saints is just a part o the heretical Restoration Movement. Mormonism claims to be Christianity RESTORED. Here is a relevant article for that

The Heresy of Restorationsim by Damon Whitsell

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FACT #2. Mormonism teaches there is no salvation outside the Mormon Church and no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this statement:

“If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670)

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches salvation is in Jesus alone:

“Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

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CC: “There are many possible interpretations of what salvation means. I fear we may be using the same word and meaning something entirely different. We do, after all, have different theological vocabularies. In this case you fail to adjust your understanding to how Mormons can understand salvation. Bruce R. McConkie’s book “Mormon Doctrine” isn’t actually official Mormon doctrine; only his personal opinions and interpretations of which he wasn’t always right and sometimes he was verged on being polemical.

However, the Book of Mormon, which is indisputable official LDS doctrine is very clear that there is no salvation save it be through Jesus Christ. “There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8)

However, Latter-day Saints believe in a further goal beyond salvation, which is exaltation. This is most likely what McConkie was referring to when he used the term exaltation.

You also need to remember that there is not a single verse of the Bible which Mormons do not agree with. The Bible is officially part of our cannon. So Mormons agree that “Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)”

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DAMON: I have to agree with some of what CC said here.

CC said “ There are many possible interpretations of what salvation means. I fear we may be using the same word and meaning something entirely different. We do, after all, have different theological vocabularies”.

IT IS TRUE,,, ALL cults redefine Christian terms.

CC said “You also need to remember that there is not a single verse of the Bible which Mormons do not agree with. The Bible is officially part of our cannon.”

This is just not true, according to the 8th article of the Mormon faith which states “ We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” http://www.religionfacts.com/mormonism/beliefs/13_articles.htm

As to CC’s assertions that McConkie was referring to exaltation and not salvation, In One sense, exaltation is salvation in Mormonism. But in another sense, Mormonism teaches a universal salvation and “general resurrection”. All men will be saved,,, BUT only good temple Mormon men will be exalted to godhood.

There are more quotes showing that the LDS teach that one must accept Joseph Smith to be saved. Look at Joseph Smiths own words,,, “I have more to boast of than any man had. I am the only man that has been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (“History of the Church”, Vol. 6, pp. 408-409, 1884).

Isn’t this an exceedingly prideful statement?

“No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial Kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph. . . .” “He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling as God does in heaven.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, 289

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FACT #3. Mormons are taught to doubt the reliability of the Bible and their leaders have consistently attacked its accuracy.

Joseph Smith claimed:

” … it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.10)

The Bible answers this attack:

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

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CC: “This is actually quite misleading. We believe that the Bible was inerrant as it was originally written by the inspired prophets and apostles, and that it is the word of God, as long as it is translated correctly. We understand the word “translate” more loosely to mean “transmit” or “interpret”. So we actually love the Bible as God’s Word and use it often, but we believe that it must be interpreted correctly. We do believe that there were parts of the gospel which were “plain and precious” that are not now found in the Bible as we know it. More than likely these truths were on completely different books which were lost and therefore didn’t make it into our current cannon. But informed Mormons will tell you that the Bible is very much as close to being accurate in the condition it now is.”

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DAMON: CC said “We believe that the Bible was inerrant as it was originally written by the inspired prophets and apostles, and that it is the word of God, as long as it is translated correctly. “

EARLIER CC said “You also need to remember that there is not a single verse of the Bible which Mormons do not agree with”

SO WHICH IS IT??? To seal the fact in the readers minds that Mormons do not believe the Bible, why did Joseph Smith rewrite the bible as this wikipedia articles shows?

The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST), also called the Inspired Version of the Bible (I.V.), is a version of the Bible dictated by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith considered this work to be “a branch of his calling” as a prophet. The work is the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) with some significant additions, clarifications, and revisions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith_Translation

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FACT #4. A basic tenant in Mormonism today is that Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan.

Milton R. Hunter explains it like this:

“The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer,… this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.” (The Gospel Through The Ages, p.15)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Lucifer attempted to become the Savior: in fact, Jesus created all the angels including Lucifer, so they can’t be brothers. Colossians 1:16 indicates that Jesus created “all things,” whether “in heaven,” or “in earth, visible or invisible.”

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CC: Again, this is a misleading statement to make. Nor is it a fundamental tenant of Mormon belief. But I admit Mormons have an entirely different framework into which we fit the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve learned a lot from my blogging interactions with people not of our faith, as well as the book “How Wide The Divide?” by Craig Blomberg (an Evangelical scholar) and Stephen Robinson (a Mormon scholar). The biggest thing I realized, and it’s simply huge, is that LDS are unique in their understanding that we are literally God’s offspring, of the same essence or species of God. For Evangelical Christians, that’s only figurative, as they believe we are a different essence entirely than God, who “chose at some point to make creatures distinct from himself–human beings–with the capacity to have a personal relationship with him” (Blomberg).

Stephen Robinson writes: “The real sticking point is not what the LDS think of Christ and his gospel, but rather the different ontological frame or view of the nature of the universe into which Mormons fit the gospel. For Latter-day Saints also believe in the LITERAL fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of humanity. We believe that God and humans are the same species of being and that all men and women were his spiritual offspring in a premortal existence. The main purpose of the gospel of Christ is therefore not so much to get us to heaven as it is to get us HOME.”

So there you have it. We all were a part of the family of God in the premortal existence long before God presented his plan for us to come to earth. This family included Lucifer, before he rebelled and was cast out and became the devil.

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DAMON: CC says “But I admit Mormons have an entirely different framework into which we fit the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve learned a lot from my blogging interactions with people not of our faith, as well as the book “How Wide The Divide?” by Craig Blomberg (an Evangelical scholar) and Stephen Robinson (a Mormon scholar). The biggest thing I realized, and it’s simply huge, is that LDS are unique in their understanding that we are literally God’s offspring, of the same essence or species of God. “

AND HOW CAN CC STILL CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIAN when he acknowledges such a broad difference between Mormonism and mainline Christianity?

CC said “The main purpose of the gospel of Christ is therefore not so much to get us to heaven as it is to get us HOME.”

The Gospel is clearly stated in the bible, 1Co 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

AND WHY DID JESUS DIE FOR OUR SINS. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Salvation is about being rescued from the wages of our sin. IT IS NOT about exaltation AND salvation is not universal as taught in the Mormons general resurrection.

The bible teaches there is one God.

Isa 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God

Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
 
 
 

 

The book of Mormon teaches there is only one God Mosiah 15:1,5; 2 Nephi 31:21The Book of Mormon Now Zeezrom said: “Is there more than one God?” And he answered, “No.Alma 11:28-29

 

Yet CC and many other Mormons dishonor God and show irreverence toward him by trying to become a God themselves.

Satan tried to become his own God and it cost him. What did it cost him. He got kicked out of heaven and had a place celled hell created for him and those that follow him. Satan tempted Adam and Eve by saying “you shall not die, but God knows that your eyes will be opened and you will be as like God”

A study of the occult will show that Genesis 3: 22 is their “secret doctrine”. Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:

 

Mormonism is occultic through and through. Google “Occult secret doctrine” and you will see that the teaching that men are gods or can become Gods is the biggest teaching in occultism, and look at the new ager’s and their “Christ consciousness” Do you remember Shirley McClain and her prancing on the beach saying I am God, I am God, I am God,,, in her New Age Special on ABC?

 

What is the difference? It is easy to see that Satan is the source of the teaching that men can become gods.

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FACT #5. Mormonism continues to teach that God the Father is a glorified, resurrected Man, and men and women may become Gods and Goddesses.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this claim:

“God himself, the Father of us all, is a glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected Man!” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 643)

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught:

” …you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you,…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346)

The Lord Himself answers this teaching by pronouncing:

“… I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

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CC: This is closely related to that quote by Stephen Robinson. Since we believe we are literally God’s children, we believe we will grow up to become like Him, similar to how children grow up to be like their parents. Obviously we have a different understanding of the nature of God than Trinitarians. But we believe our understanding is biblical. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We also believe the biblical statements that all three are three and also one. But we reject any post-biblical creeds or councils or statements that attempted to reconcile those two truths.

Therefore, you won’t hear LDS speak much of the Trinity, but of the Godhead. We believe each person of the Godhead is his own being, but that they are one God, or Godhead, as they are one in purpose and intent and glory.

We also hold that it is possible that the Father once had a mortal experience as did the Son, but Jesus was no mere man while he dwelt on earth. He was fully divine and God himself in human form. We’re different in that we are very much mortal, but Christ shows us to way back to the Father. Through Christ’s atonement we believe we can literally be made one again (“at-one-ment”) with the Father as well as the Son. This is the kind of oneness Christ prayed for in his intercessory prayer in John 17.

If we can become “joint heirs” with Them and “one” with Them, than a case can be made that we could also be called gods since we belong to the family of God. But the biggest mistake that critics of the LDS church make is in taking that too far and saying that we believe that we can one day replace God as the supreme ruler of the universe and become objects of worship ourselves. In reality, the goal is to become like them, in attributes and so forth, but we will always reverence and worship the true and eternal God, or Godhead, for eternity.

One helpful clarification about the idea that we can become like God was given by the Church in response to an interview by Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,317272,00.html

“We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.”

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DAMON: CC said “If we can become “joint heirs” with Them and “one” with Them, than a case can be made that we could also be called gods since we belong to the family of God”

I just got though listening to Joyce Meyers say about the same thing. She deduced that because humans have humans, Gods must have Gods. But Neither Joyce, the other word faith movement teachers, or Mormons fail to realize is that humans do not create, they merely procreate. God creates. But then again Mormonism claims that God is an exalted man so in reality God does not create anything, Then you run into the question of where did man come from. And how can God exist in a infinite regression of causes. Mormonism teaches exaltation. So regardless of the Mormon rhetoric that they only claim and worship one God, they believe in an infinite number of God’s and say men can become Gods.

This post deals with the IMPOSSIBILITY THAT GOD IS AN EXALTED MAN. A logical proof that Mormonism is false!

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FACT #6. Mormons consider Polygamy a righteous principle which will be practiced in heaven.

Although there is nothing in the Bible that will support this thinking, current Mormon Scripture has this to say:

“. . .if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery . . . . And if he have TEN VIRGINS given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:61, 62)

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Cc: Actually this is quite a debate in Mormonism since we generally don’t like the idea of polygamy, and gave it up in 1890. Yet it is true that we allow that those who were authorized to practice polygamy while on earth will continue to have their families in tact in the hereafter. But nothing is taught about the rest of us “normal” couples having to live polygamy in the hereafter. We won’t be forced to do anything that wouldn’t allow us to have the promised “fullness of joy”. I’d like to note here that monogamy has always been the rule and Polygamy has only been the exception, not only among the 19th century LDS, but even when God commanded Abraham in the Old Testament to have multiple wives.

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DAMON: Actually there is quite a split in Mormonism about Polygamy. While the larger portion of the LDS movement no longer practices polygamy, it is a source of contention and many of the 100 + church splits within Mormonism has been over polygamy since it is taught that in order to enter the highest heaven that those who enter must be living in polygamy.

When CC says “Actually this is quite a debate in Mormonism since we generally don’t like the idea of polygamy, and gave it up in 1890”,,,,,, it must be realized that this only happened with the threat of the United States Army invading Utah and claming war against the Mormon Church.

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FACT #7. Mormons today believe God the Father is married and past leaders have taught both God the Father and Jesus Christ are polygamists.

Apostle Orson Pratt makes these unbelievable statements:

“. . .the great Messiah who was the founder of the Christian religion, was a Polygamist,. . . the Messiah chose to take upon himself his seed; and by marrying many honorable wives himself, show to all future generations that he approbated the plurality of Wives under the Christian dispensation,. . .God the Father had a plurality of wives,. . . the Son followed the example of his Father,. . . both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time;. . .” (The Seer, p. 172)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that God the Father and Jesus Christ are married or polygamists.

____________________________________________

CC: “We don’t talk much about it, but since we believe that we are literally children of a Heavenly Father, that it would follow that He is not a single parent, and therefore that we have a Heavenly Mother. But we know absolutely nothing about her, as nothing as been revealed about her. Likewise, there is no revelation about God or Jesus being polygamists, so any past leaders teaching about that was based solely on personal opinion and speculation and is certainly not representative of the general church membership and is not official Mormon doctrine.

Orson Pratt was known to make some pretty outrageous statements in the 19th century which conflicted even with the views of some of the other church leaders of the time. He was constantly needing to be reigned in, especially with his personal views about the above.”

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DAMON: It cannot be denied that Orson Pratt, taught that God the Father and Jesus was polygamist. He was an Apostle of the Mormon church. He was not just a leader. Pratt should have been more that “reigned in” by other Mormon leaders. If the other Mormon leaders did not agree with Pratt, he should have been removed.

CC says “we believe that we are literally children of a Heavenly Father, that it would follow that He is not a single parent, and therefore that we have a Heavenly Mother. But we know absolutely nothing about her, as nothing as been revealed about her”

It is a logical requirement for Mormons to teach about a Mother God, which the bible says nothing about. This is because of their doctrine of exaltation. Men and women can become gods in Mormonism. And their teaching on pre-existence, that we all pre-existed on a planet called KOLAB with our heavenly father Elohim and His wife, our heavenly mother an exalted woman..

But the teaching that there is a female God or a mother God is purely occultic as shown in witchcraft by their Great Mother Goddess, Mother Nature or Mother Gia. The Egyptian Mother Goddess ISIS is a good example. Occult writer Sylvia Browne wrote a whole book entitled “Mother God”

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FACT #8. The majority of the activity in the Mormon Temples is work done in behalf of the DEAD.

Joseph Smith offers this explanation:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our DEAD.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356)

Although many Mormons are attempting to save their dead relatives, the Bible indicates:

“None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalms 49:7)

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CC: “This is a true statement. We believe that baptism is essential to forming a saving covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as signify that our old life is buried and that we are born again as sons and daughters of Christ. Naturally we believe that many of God’s children have died without having had a proper baptism, let alone any baptism. Therefore, temple work is dedicated to doing vicarious ordinances for those who have passed on. In the Spirit World those people will have the chance to accept or reject that baptism, as well as other ordinances, for themselves. We believe this shows both the justice and mercy of God.”

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DAMON: The bible says Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

There is no SECOND CHANCE. Most importantly,,, REGULAR BAPTIMS DOE NOT SAVE, much less proxy baptism for the dead. It is common among the cults to teach baptismal regeneration. Here a couple of post from this blog on baptism.

WATER BAPTISM: A PAGAN AND JEWISH RITE,BUT NOT CHRISTIAN by James Moon

Water salvation/baptismal regeneration reduced to absurdity BY Damon Whitsell

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FACT #9. To the Mormon, the ultimate test that Mormonism is true is an “inner feeling.”

Mormons often refer to this feeling as a “burning in the bosom.” They believe their scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) gives the best test for determining truth. This test reads:

” . . .study it out in your mind; then you must ask me [the Lord] if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall FEEL that it is right.”

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

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CC: “We believe that God answers prayers. (See James 1:5). We believe that he speaks to us through His Spirit, which testifies of truth both in our minds and in our hearts. We believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We have faith, and sometimes that faith can grow into certain knowledge. Similar to how we first have faith, before planting a seed, that it will grow. Then if we nourish the seed and it actually begins to grow, then we know was a good seed. And before long, if you haven’t given up on the seed because of unbelief, you’ll be able to taste the fruit for yourself and know if the fruit is bad or good. I planted that seed of faith long ago, and it has grown into a marvelous tree which bears delicious fruit, therefore, I know that the seed of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is a good seed and bears good fruit. But I also acknowledge that you and your faith can bear good fruit as well. I think the Holy Spirit testifies of all truth according to our individual understanding.”

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DAMON: CC said “I know that the seed of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is a good seed and bears good fruit. But I also acknowledge that you and your faith can bear good fruit as well”

CC acknowledges here that HIS GOSEPL and MY GOSPEL are different. Of course his is the true and restored one. But lets examine that and realize what he means. Mormonism and all Restoration movement CULTS say they are the “restored church and gospel”. So they say,,, Christianity became apostate and non existent and the real gospel and church had to be resorted. So on one hand CC wants to claim to be that restored Church and gospel, but then wants to say that Christianity has good fruits. But it cannot be. God only has one Gospel. Either the gospel of Mormonism or the gospel of mainline Christianity is false and one has bad fruits and is not from God. . They cannot both be true.

Christianity says there is one true God and that God became a man to die for the sins of the world. Mormonism says that men are not helpless but have within themselves the ability to become a god. You judge for yourself which one is from God and which one is NOT from God.

Mormons testify that Mormonism is true based on a Burning in the Bosom. CC’s attempt to change the subject does not change the fact that feelings are deceptive.

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FACTS # 11-17 and my Personal concerns about Mormonism WILL BE ADDRESSED IN PART 2 OF THIS POST.
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

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If all Mormons are Christians, then all Christians are Mormon

Mormons claim to be Christian yet deny the essentials of Christianity; namely, that there is one God, that forgiveness of sins is by grace alone, that there is a trinity, that Jesus is God, etc.

 
Mormonism teaches that there are many many gods but that Mormons should serve and worship only one of them, the one of this world. It teaches that forgiveness of sins is not by grace alone. It denies the Trinity doctrine which says there is one God in three persons and instead says that there are three separate gods. It does not proclaim that Jesus is God, but that Jesus is “a” god…. etc. Additionally, Mormons have secret temple rituals, even though the rituals have been done away with with the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

 
Now, Mormons deny these basic Christian doctrines, yet they want to be called Christian because they say they believe in the same Jesus of the Bible, among other things. But when they speak of Jesus, they mean that Jesus is the brother of Satan, and you and I. They teach that we have all been born from god and his goddess wife who both have physical bodies of flesh and bones.

 
None of this is in the Bible and none of this is believed by Christians. But that has not stopped them from wanting to be called Christian.

 
So, since the Mormons deny basic Christian doctrine and claim to be Christian, then I can deny basic Mormon doctrine and be a Mormon. For example, I deny the following Mormon doctrines.

 

I deny that there are many many gods (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, page 163).

 
I deny that the trinity is three separate gods (Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith page 370).

 
I deny that god is a man from another planet (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, page 3).

 
I deny that there is a goddess mother (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, page 443).

 
I deny that god is married to his goddess wife (Mormon Doctrine p. 516.).

 
I deny that god and his goddess wife have bodies of flesh and bones (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22; Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 3.)

 
I deny that we were all born in the pre-existence (Journal of Discourse, Vol. 4, page 218; Articles of Faith, page 174).

 
I deny that Satan is my spirit brother (Mormon Doctrine, page 163).

 
I deny that I need a temple (Articles of Faith, page 138).

 
I deny that I have the potential of becoming a god (Articles of Faith, page 424).

 
I deny that the book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible (History of the Church, 4:461).

 
I deny that good works are necessary for salvation (Articles of Faith, pages 81, 92).

 
I deny that my own blood must atone for any of my sins ((Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, page 247; see also, Vol. 4, pp. 53-54, 219-220).

 
Therefore, since the Mormons deny basic Christian doctrines and call them selves Christian, is it okay for me to deny basic Mormon doctrines and call myself a Mormon?

http://www.carm.org/lds/ldschristian.htm

 

PART TWO OF THIS VIDEO IS HERE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ipeeqr5qoI&feature=related

 

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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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WE’RE CHRISTIANS TOO by LetUsReason.org

The state of Utah is known to be a majority of Mormons, where around 70% of the population and 95% of the legislature claims to be LDS. (Las Vegas Review Journal, 3/6/88, p. 6c).

The Mormon state is not without their problems. The suicide rate of the elderly (age 75+) for the nation is 19.2 per 100,000. For Utah it is 57 per 100,000, surpassed only by Nevada. (Deseret News, 12/29-30/86, p.2B).

70% of Salt Lake County’s high school seniors and 35% of the 5th and 6th graders used alcohol. 4% of the 5th and 6th graders have used heroin and cocaine. (The Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 21, 1990, p.B9). “Utahns… lead the nation in the use of prescription drugs…,” (Salt Lake Tribune April 1, 1989 p. E3). The American Medical Association reported in 1986 that Utah ranked 3rd in the nation in the use of Amphetamines and jumped to 2nd in 1988. (Salt Lake Tribune, 8/31/89, p.B1).

“Sexual harassment in Utah is high for its population when compared to other states.” (Vernal Express, Nov. 13, 1991) Rape increased 30% between 1989 and 1990, the 3rd highest increase in the nation (The Washington Post, March 22, 1991, p. A3). Utah’s prisons rank fourth in the nation in prison population increase. (Provo Herald, May 24, 1990).”…the increase in premarital sex has been greater among Mormon women than any other religious group.” (Provo Hearld, 8/9/91, p.B3)

“Statewide, 4,218 children were born out of wedlock for a rate of 117 per thousand live births. 50% of all Utah births are to teenage girls. 7 out of 10 of these are illegitimate.” (Dallas Morning News, 7/26/83; Salt Lake Tribune, 11/20/81, p.B9; Ogden Standard Examiner, 12/15/79). In 1978, 70% of Utah’s teenage brides were pregnant at their weddings. (Sonia From Housewife to Heretic, Johnson, Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1981).

Consequently it has been reported “Salt Lake County’s divorce rate is almost 50 percent higher than the national average.” (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 11, 1990 p.1-E). The increase in martial instability among Mormons is higher than for most other religious groups. (Dialogue, Fall 1992, p. 26-27, a LDS pub.). “Utah’s divorce rate is 5.4 per 1,000 persons, compared to 4.8 nationally.” (Latter Day Sentinel, 3/5/88, p.24).

The Utah murder rate for children is 5 times higher than the national average. (The Denver Post, Empire Magazine, 11/21/82, p.30). “The State Division of Family Services reported a 343 percent increase in child sexual abuse referrals from 1982 through 1987,”(KSL Radio, Salt Lake City, May 18, 1989, p.1 transcript).
Granted there are many problems with all religions. As people we are not exempt. but for a state that is almost completely Mormon this is not advantageous for those who claim to have wonderful family values. It appears it is not working for them. But his does not stop them from having an enormous missionary effort that comes to your door and mine presenting the clean wonderful life of Mormons.

They currently have about 58,000 missionaries going to peoples doors in 110 nations teaching in 69 languages. There are currently 53,000 LDS members in the Hawaiian Islands that is 1/10 The the adult population of this Island alone. Although there might be as much as 5% that are inactive never leaving the church officially. This is something they ask people to do even if they disagree giving them time to reconsider and of course keep them in their membership books.

Their growth has continued steadily upward here in the US, and experiencing phenomenal growth in 3rd world and non English speaking countries. In the Philippines membership has gone from 43,000 to 280,000 in Mexico 248,000 to 670,000 in Brazil it went from 99,000 to 400,000. (Elkinton manager of management information center, Beehive newspaper, may 1993 p.3)

Despite all that is on paper , reality is not as wonderful as in print. In 1988, they had a missionary force of 36,123, the church registering 256,515 convert baptisms. But 10 years later, in 1998, with a missionary force of 57,853 it only baptised 299,134 converts. Which is an increase of only 16 percent in the number of converts in the face of its missionary force boasting a sizeable 60-percent growth.

Their estimates are 12 million members by the year 2,000, 35 million by 2020, and 157 million by middle of the next cent. (the beehive). I would think they could reach these numbers by their own family’s alone. Remember it is requirement to have as many children as possible for the celestial kingdom.

Someone joins this church every minute and 55 seconds. Who sat down to calculate those figures ? (Larry Elkinton Beehive Newspaper, may 1993) But the truth is they have trouble keeping the converts. While the church releases impressive growth statistics, they are misleading. Yet even if they are half of what they say it is one too many.

Although efforts from the true historic Church of Jesus have stepped up. there is more information now than there has ever been on what Mormonism really teaches and practices. They still are converting mass numbers, and they coming from the Christian denominations.

Believe it or not half the new converts are from Christian denominations 100,000 from Baptists each year, next in line are Catholic’s, then Presbyterians, very few Jewish people enter for good reason. The pluralistic teaching of God. The Church’s major audience is not to unbelievers but among Christian believers. They come to remove the ungrounded, those who are nominal or new.

Maybe you have noticed their change of advertisements on TV, Instead of putting the book of Mormon next to the bible as another testament, they now just advertise the Bible so they can come to your house as being representatives of Christianity. Recently the LDS Church has carried its bait and switch campaign to new heights. The New television ads offer listeners a free copy of a King James Bible. This too will be hand-delivered simply by calling a toll-free number.

When the missionaries come to your door they don’t tell people about their real view of the bible that its corrupted.

What they also don’t tell people is what the Mormon leaders and the Mormon Scriptures actually say? And for good reason, most who read the bible would throw them right out. You see they want to be accepted today as Christians without adhering to any Christian doctrine. Instead they want to replace it all with new revelation from their modern prophets.

In its general public statements about the Bible today The Mormon Church cites its own Articles of Faith, found in its Scripture, the Pearl of Great Price. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;… (Articles of Faith, #8) When it comes down to it, the bible is never translated right. If there is a choice between what their book says and Gods Holy word, there’s not much guesswork which will be chosen.

The Mormons most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations. (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, a letter from the First Presidency (Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson) dated May 22, 1992, to all members of the Church)

So instead of using the Bible to appraise Mormonism they reverse this and use Mormonism (the book of Mormon) to judge the Bible. When speaking honestly, Mormon leaders view the Book of Mormon as more reliable than the Bible because of its inferiority.

” Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. (“The Keystone of Our Religion”, Ensign, by President Ezra Taft Benson, January 1992, page 5).

I [Joseph Smith] believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.327) Mr. Smith wrote his own translation to correct the errors, not by looking at the manuscripts, but by his own subjective leading which he thought was God.

The Book of Mormon itself claims important parts of the Bible have been removed such as the gospel. That it was needed to restore the full and true gospel.

…It was after a conference in Amherst, Ohio, February 16, 1832, that Joseph said it was apparent to him, “from sundry revelations which had been received, “that “many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Preface to D&C 76.)

But if the book of Mormon is the fullness of the gospel as claimed then why are there so many other essential doctrines for salvation found outside it , in their other books?

God

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

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

How anyone can say these things and publish them with a straight face is beyond me. The pagan concept is multiple Gods exactly what they believe, also they have in their writings that Adam was God and god was once a man who progressed to be god and that is the God they worship, that is worshipping a god of their own creation , god made in the image of man, a creature who is not god at all.

When a Mormon speaks about the Gospel it is not the Christian Gospel but the restored one of J. Smith, you can join the Mormon church and not believe Jesus is the Son of God but you cannot join unless you accept J. Smith as a prophet of God. “If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is-Joseph Smith, junior, the prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them.” (Discourses of Brigham young p.116)

[Joseph Smith speaking] I have more to boast of than any man ever had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. (HOTC, vol.6, p.78. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 6, Page 408-409) Not true many have ran away just not the whole church, yet.

“If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation, There is no salvation outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”(Bruce R.McConkie Mormon doctrine p.670)

Bible teaches there is no salvation outside the person and work of Jesus Christ. Its not membership in the Church that saves.

“If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him, if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him” (Pres. George Q. Cannon 1988 melchezedik guide p.142)

I have read the Bible a number of times and have not found Mr. Smiths name in it. Can you help me find it? What makes him more important than all the apostles, sounds like the sainthood or the primacy of Peter in the Catholic church.

“….and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti Christ.” (J & D vol.9 p.312) Here they change the Bibles words and definition of 1 Jn.4:1, this is blatant and intentional.

God so loved, that he made provision for a 2nd chance and all will receive that opportunity.

Elder and apostle of The Church Bruce R. McConkie, called the doctrine of salvation by grace without works, “the second greatest heresy” of Christianity during Brigham Young University’s opening devotional Tuesday. The first great heresy, he said, pertains to the nature of God, the doctrine of the trinity” (Staff Report, The Herald, Provo Utah, 1/12/1984)

The nature of god in Christianity and the persons involved also have to do with salvation.

For Salvation, the Mormon church has always upheld mans own obedience merits him right standing with God, whoever that god is, I still haven’t figured out which one (since Brigham young said it was Adam). The Gospel of Mormonism is “faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, morality, loyalty, tithing, word of wisdom, duty, celestial marriage (Articles of faith).

They try to sound Christian to replace what has been here for 2,000 years they consistently attack Christianity but are repulsed when we defend ourselves by showing them their own quotes. “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing…Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (John Taylor, JD 13:225)

Or when we are called by them”…the great apostate church as the anti-christ…This great antichrist…is the church of the devil.” (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine p.40)

“After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They belong to Babylon.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324)

Despite this accusing of Gods church they want to be called Christian. to do this they have made some changes. They have changed the church’s logo featuring “JESUS CHRIST” in large, uppercase type, and the rest of the movement’s naive in smaller type.( designed in 1995 by a secular marketing firm.)

James Talmage, who many considered Mormonism’s greatest theologian, explained Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. Talmage wrote, “We believe that through the sufferings, death and atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind, without one exception, are to be completely and fully redeemed… [of] Adam’s transgression…” (Articles of Faith, p. 477).

Thus, the atonement and death of Jesus on the cross actually only forgives mankind of Adam’s original sin (which they do not believe in). How then is man forgiven of his own personal sin? In the Improvement Era, an official periodical of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet, explained the solution. “Our Eternal Father would have every soul saved if that were feasible. Salvation, however, is based on merit and obedience to divine law and therefore is only obtained through compliance with divine commandments” (Nov. 1965, p. 962).

“Men have work to do if they would obtain salvation” (Doctrines of salvation vol.3 p.91)

“Individual (salvation) that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (Doctrines of salvation vol.1 p.134)

The forsaking of sin must be a permanent one. True repentance does NOT permit making the same mistake again (Spencer W. Kimball, Repentance Brings Forgiveness, Page 7)

“We also have to forsake the sin and never to repeat it not even in our minds, in order to remain forgiven we must never commit the sin again (Mormon Missionary Discussion F, Uniform systems for teaching families p.35-36)

11 Nephi 25:23 says that in order to be saved you must do all that you can do. Are you doing all that you can do? Have you repeated your sin? The idea of perfection in this life has been proposed by numerous people over the centuries, and while our weakness is not a legitimate excuse for practicing sin in reality no one has the ability not even monks to rid themselves of sin or not repeat it. Doctrines like this operate from pride. As soon as one thinks they have become humble walking in perfect obedience they have pride which is the basis of operation from almost all sins especially false doctrine.

Joseph Fielding Smith Under the sub-heading “Misinterpretation of Texts,” Smith discussed Ephesians 2:8-10 in this way: “There are various opinions concerning the virtue and requirements of salvation. Misinterpretation of Paul’s words has led to much confusion and rejection of the full gospel plan.

“Failure to comprehend the two-fold purpose of the atonement has caused many to believe that all that is essential for salvation is to confess the name of Jesus Christ.” “Those who teach the doctrine of `faith alone’ are searching for an `easy road to heaven.’ … Someone has referred to them as Bible Christians – their religion is in the Bible and not very much in themselves,” (Religious Truths Defined, 1961 ed., p. 267).

Smith is correct. As Biblical Christians we do put our faith in the teachings of the Bible and not in our own works. But it was not an easy road, because Christ had to suffer through his life and especially on the cross to obtain it for us. They practice a cross-less Christianity. And we are to walk in his footsteps by denying self. Mormonism operates on the very opposite basis that all is done so one can obtain the right to be a god on their own planet just as all other gods before them. So they are striving for an illusive butterfly. You can say their prophets over promises and their religion falls way short of its delivery.

What can one say to a Mormon who comes to their door without it taking hours having only one chance to challenge them.

When I’m in a discussion I have them commit to saying they are a Christian. Then I pose a question to them in this manner.

What if I said I was a Mormon and that I can join any church that teaches the Bible. I also don’t believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet, or that their are modern day prophets and apostles. I don’t believe Jesus is an angel in the Spirit family of the Devil, nor that God gives new revelation adding to scripture nor that I can progress to be god of my own world by following the ordinances of the Mormon church with its priesthood.

They would answer, then you are not a Mormon.

I would then ask why not? Their reply would be- because you do not believe what Mormons believe, our priesthood our prophet, you don’t believe in eternal progression, or new revelation in scripture!

My reply would then be, This is exactly why you are not a Christian. You don’t believe in one God, the finished revelation written by the true prophets, that Jesus is the one true God and that man is a sinner, in need of redemption and we can never to progress to be God!

We do want Mormons to be included in Christianity but they need to come the same way we all did by a new spiritual birth, not by the laws and ordinances of the church. One is born into the kingdom (Jn.1:12) not by working they’re way.

http://www.letusreason.org/LDS6.htm

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The video and video page commentary that goes with the video, is below this article from religioustolerance.org (a religiously neutral site), The article is titled “THE AFTERLIFE: BELIEFS OF INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS” But in reality,,, all the groups proclaimed by them to be “Christian denominations” are really aberrant Pseudo/Christian CULTS.
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This is THEIR summary statements about these CULTS afterlife belief.
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Christadelphians: Only those who have heard the Gospel will be resurrected from the grave and be judged. The rest will remain dead, without consciousness, forever.

Christian science: Hell is mental anguish, not a place of separation from God. Heaven is harmony and bliss, not a place of reward.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Hell does not exist; the unsaved simply die and are no more. The earth will become a paradise after Jesus returns.

Mormons: There are 3 levels to Heaven. Hell exists, but very few go there.
Seventh Day Adventists: Heaven exists. Hell is not a place of eternal torment; it is a place where annihilation occurs; people who go there cease to exist.

Twelve Tribes Communities (a.k.a. the Messianic Communities): There are three possible destinations after death: eternal death, God’s eternal kingdom or the Holy City, New Jerusalem. One’s destination depends upon one’s behavior while alive on earth.
Unity School of Christianity: Heaven and hell do not exist as places, but as states of consciousness while we are alive on earth.
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Now we will look at the MORE FULL ASSESSMANT of 4 of these groups and their beliefs on Heaven and Hell (you can read religioustolerance.org assessment of the other groups at the link below). Then we will delve into the motives for these non biblical views of the after life and some logical reasons that hell is real and eternal.

Like the atheist or Reincarnationist, Cult members and cult groups have the physcological need to “re-interpret” the biblical view of eternity and divine judgment. Their souls have not been laid to rest by the doctrine of Grace and total, efficacious sufficiency of that Divine Judgment being poured out on Jesus Christ to make complete atonement for our personal sins.

IN the Cults, the doctrines of redemption and propitiation have been removed. And the atonement is minimized as NOT THE WAY but merely a stepping stone to salvation by works. Therefore, everlasting punishment for sin has to be rejected and removed for sake of the consciences of the Cult members, and potential converts, to bear.
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The Christadelphians
Their name is taken from the Greek in Hebrews 2:11 which translates to “brethren of Christ.” They believe that individuals who have died without hearing the Gospel will remain dead, without consciousness forever. They are to be annihilated at death. There is a division within the group:

The Amended Group of Christadelphians believe that the dead who are “in Christ” will be resurrected and judged at the time of the Second Coming of Christ. Those who have tried to pattern their lives after Christ’s example will be granted immortality. They will live on Earth, restored to its Eden-like state. The wicked will consigned to the “second death.” They will be annihilated and cease to exist.

The Unamended group believe that all of the dead who had been saved will be resurrected and automatically have eternal life in a restored Earth.

Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, repentance and baptism are all required to be saved.
___________________________________________
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Members of The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (WTS) believe that Hell does not exist. They interpret Hell symbolically as the “common grave of mankind.” Most people simply cease to exist at death; they are annihilated, and do not continue to exist in any form.

The Heavenly Kingdom was established in 1914 CE. A “little flock” or “Anointed Class” of about 135,400 people currently inhabits Heaven. Another 8,600 are still alive at the present time; will also spend eternity with God at a later date. The battle of Armageddon will start soon. Jesus, under Jehovah’s divine rage, will execute vengeance upon the rest of Christendom and followers of “Babylon the Great” (other religions). After the world is purified, a theocracy “God’s Kingdom” will be established on earth for 1000 years. Those who survive Armageddon, the “other sheep,” will live in peace in the newly created utopia — a paradise on earth. They will be joined by the worthy dead who have been resurrected. After 1000 years of God’s Kingdom, Satan, his demon forces and all those rebellious ones who turn against God will be finally destroyed.

In order to be saved, a person should:

accept the doctrines formulated by the WTS Governing Body,
be baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness, and
follow the program of works as laid out by the Governing Body. 6,7,8
________________________________________________
Mormons
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that not one, but three heavens exist:

The highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom are reserved for Mormon couples who have been married in a Mormon temple and thus have had their marriage sealed for eternity. The couples can eventually become a God and Goddess; the husband will then be in control of an entire universe. Christians who are non-Mormons and have led truly exceptional lives will also spend eternity in the Celestial Kingdom.
The Terrestrial Kingdom, is the destination for most individuals.
The Telestial Kingdom is for “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers” (D&C 76:102).

Individuals will learn and progress within the Kingdom to which they are assigned at death. However, with the exception of those in Hell, they are not allowed to transfer to the next higher level. (D&C 76:70-107) Couples who are not sealed (married in a Mormon temple) will be automatically divorced at death and spend eternity as single individuals.
Hell exists, but very few people will stay there forever. Most will eventually “pass into the telestial kingdom; the balance, cursed as ‘sons of perdition’, will be consigned to partake of endless wo [sic] with the devil and his [fallen] angels.” (Doctrines and Covenants”, 76:84). Sons of perdition have been defined as once devout Mormons who have become apostates by rejecting God’s truth and have left the LDS church. This appears to be the official teaching of the church. Other Mormons have a broader definition and include persons who have knowingly committed a very serious sins and have not repented and sought God’s forgiveness — sins like murder and pre-marital sex.

All will be resurrected. Their belief in Universal Resurrection states that “the unbeliever, the heathen and the child who dies before reaching the years of discretion” will all be brought back to life. (Articles of Faith, Page 85).

Additional benefits beyond simple resurrection will be gained by those who do good works.
___________________________________
Seventh Day Adventists:
The Seventy-Day Adventists believe in the traditional concept of Heaven and Hell. However, they do not believe that Hell is a place of eternal punishment “with sinners screaming in agony without end.” They view Hell as a place where the unsaved will be burned up, reduced to ashes, and annihilated.

They cite Biblical verses to show that the “‘everlasting’ in ‘everlasting hell’ means ‘as long as there is something to burn in hell.’ Our God is a loving God and to portray sinners as screaming in agony forever and ever does not portray God in such light.” 1
Here is the link to the article. http://www.religioustolerance.org/heav_hel3.htm
_________________________________
Now we will hear from a friend (Tommy) at a MSN group that I visit. Here is his moderate sized post on the subject @ http://groups.msn.com/ChristianDiscussion/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=1&ID_Message=97222

The horrors of hell are such that they cause us to instinctively recoil in disbelief and doubt. Yet, there are compelling reasons that should cause us to erase such doubt from our minds.

First, Christ, the creator of the cosmos, clearly communicated hell’s irrevocable reality. He spent more time talking about hell than he did about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount alone (Matthew 5-7), he explicitly warned his followers about the dangers of hell a half a dozen or more times. In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25), Christ repeatedly warned his followers of the judgement that is to come. And, in his famous story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16), Christ graphically portrayed the finality of eternal torment in hell.
Furthermore, the concept of choice demands that we believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice. And without choice, heaven would not be heaven; heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven, and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their wills, which would be a torture worse than hell. Imagine spending a lifetime voluntarily distanced from God only to find yourself involuntarily dragged into his loving presence for all eternity; the alternatve to hell is worse than hell itself in that humans made in the image of God would be stripped of freedom to worship God against their will.

Finally, common sense dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust will never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. David knew that for a time it might seem as though the wicked prosper in spite of their deeds, but in the end justice will be served.

Common sense also dictates that without a hell there is no need for a Savior. Little needs to be said about the absurdity of suggesting that the Creator should suffer more than the cumulative sufferings of all mankind, if there were no hell to save us from. Without hell, there is no need for salvation. Without salvation, there is no need for a Savior. As much as we may wish to think that all will be saved, common sense precludes the possibility.
Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
____________________________
So Why do Cults say that hell is not an eternal pace of everlasting punishment???

Wouldn’t you if you where not RESTING in Jesus and his death on the Cross as God’s sacrifice for your sins.

Damon Whitsell
How2BecomeAChristian.info.
________________________________________
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT…HELL?

HELL IS A REALITY

An earmark of cultic religions is their views about hell. If they do not use the fear of going to hell to bring people into bondage, then they try to discount hell altogether. One of Satan’s favorite lies is to try to convince people that they suffer their hell on earth and that there is none hereafter. He also tries to get them to believe the lie that death only brings a state of sleep or rest. Another doctrine teaches that hell is only temporary and eventually after being in the fires of hell people become cleansed and purified to the degree that they will then be accepted into heaven. These terrible heresies are believed by many Christians who are ignorant of what God’s Word has to say about it. Cults also teach that hell is a place where souls are simply annihilated and therefore no longer exist. Some teach reincarnation, giving people another chance to be born on this earth for as many times as it takes to become purified, progressing to higher forms each time they return. Others say hell is only a place away from God, but it is not a literal burning fiery hell. All of these are lies of Satan to cause people to minimize the reality of hell.

What does the Bible say about hell? To make a point, Jesus described this place as such a place of horror that it would be better to sever a member of our body that would lead us there, than to end up in that place of torments.

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).
We don’t have to cut our limbs or pluck out our eyes to be free from hell, Jesus made a way for us to escape this evil through our repentance and acceptance of what He did for us on the cross when He died for the sins of our flesh. However, we see clearly that His statement signifies the exclusion of the hope of restoration and that punishment is eternal once a person is there. He repeats the words, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” three times for emphasis.

Another account of the torments of hell is found in Luke 16:19-26:”There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” Hell is described not only as a fiery place of torment, but also as a separation from God and His saints, a place where there is continual torment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ker6uxWRTg0

A FEW RELATED POST 

What is a (Pseudo/Christian) Cult? by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart  

What are the Characteristics of Cults? by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart

The Beliefs of Orthodox Christianity

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Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) arose from the aftermath of the Adventist movement of the mid-1800s. “Seventh-day” refers to the focus on sabbath, or Saturday worship. “Adventist” refers to the SDA belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days remnant and the coming of Christ. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller’s followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the “adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly (Melton, J. Gordon, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 21–22). 

Christ did not appear in 1844. After this “Great Disappointment,” one “little flock” still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There, they said, He began the “Investigative Judgment.” (See #6 below.) This doctrine was received and endorsed by Ellen G. White (Ibid., p. 680).

From 1844 to 1851, the group taught the “shut door” doctrine, based on Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins. Anyone who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy of Holies was to be shut out permanently, as were the five foolish virgins. Cut off from the Bridegroom, they could not join the Adventists or have any hope of eternal life. Ellen White not only approved and taught this doctrine, but her first vision experience (she claimed over 2,000 visions) was largely responsible for its being received by the Adventist group (Brinsmead, Robert, D., Judged by the Gospel: A Review of Adventism, pp. 130–133).

By 1846, the group had adopted the Seventh-Day Baptists’ view that the Saturday Sabbath must be observed by Christians. A highly elevated form of this doctrine, together with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment, became the hallmarks of Seventh-Day Adventism. In 1850, James and Ellen White began publishing a magazine, The Review & Herald, to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. This helped many of the remaining “Millerites” to coalesce into a distinctive body, which adopted the name of Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1860, and formally incorporated in 1863, with approximately 3,500 members in 125 congregations (Encyclopedia of American Religion, Vol. 2, p. 681).

Ellen G. White (1827-1915) never held official title as the head of the SDA church, but was one of its founders and acknowledged spiritual leader. She rather disingenuously declined to claim the title of “prophet,” calling herself a “messenger” instead (P.G. Damsteegt, et al., Seventh-day Adventists Believe … A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, 1988, p. 224). But she claimed to have the “spirit of prophecy,” and that her messages were direct from God for the guidance and instruction of the church. With her knowledge and consent, others called her a prophet and an inspired commentator of Scripture1, and even “the Spirit of Prophecy” (Maurice Barnett, Ellen G. White & Inspiration, pp. 5–17). Having only a third grade education, Ellen White said for years she was unable to read, bolstering the claim that her beautiful prose was inspired by God. However, it has been discovered that she not only read, but plagiarized other Christian authors throughout virtually all her writings. The sad facts of this matter have been thoroughly and indisputably established in several books. (e.g., see Walter Rea, The White Lie; and Judged by the Gospel, pp. 361–383). 

As of year-end 1999, the SDA church claimed more than 10.9 million members worldwide in 46,700 churches; there are more than 900,000 Adventists in the U.S. and Canada (making the SDA one of the fastest growing “churches” in the world — membership up over 10% in 1999). While headquartered in Washington, D.C., SDA employment worldwide totals nearly 166,000, not including 13,815 ordained ministers. (Contributions in 1999 totaled $1.6 billion.) SDAs claim to be working in 725 languages and over 1,000 dialects. They have a large investment in publishing and education — they operate 56 publishing houses and support 549 medical units (696 including 117 nursing homes and retirement centers and 30 orphanages); and 5,846 primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities (with total enrollment of over a million students). They also broadcast over Adventist World Radio more than 1,000 hours per week of programming in more than 40 languages from 18 transmitters in seven international locations, and have almost 13  million students enrolled in its more than 110,000 “Sabbath Schools” (11/2001, SDA Internet web site). (The SDA church also publishes two of their own Bible “translations”: The Study Bible and The Clear Word Bible.)

SDA is organized as a representative democracy. Lower echelons elect representatives to higher units; determination and administration of policy and enforcement of doctrinal orthodoxy is imposed from the top down. President and Executive Committee of General Conference are standing chief administrative offices. Lower administrative units are the General Conference, Divisions (over continents), Union Conferences, local Conferences, and congregations.

In the late 1950s, cult expert Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, in collaboration with neo-evangelical Donald Barnhouse, made an extensive investigation of the teachings (doctrines) of Seventh-Day Adventism. Their purpose was to determine whether to classify SDA as part of the evangelical community, or to go along with the majority of evangelicals and treat SDAs as cult members (thereby requiring evangelicals to exercise Biblical separation). (In the 1955 edition of The Kingdom of the Cults, Martin originally did classify SDA as cultic.) Martin and Barnhouse concluded that SDA was within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Walter Martin, in his article in the 12/19/60 Christianity Today, said: “That Adventists should be recognized as Christians and that fellowship should be extended to them we do not deny” (p. 15).

Among those adamantly opposing that conclusion was Biblical scholar Dr. John Whitcomb, Jr., then of Grace Theological Seminary. Detailed below is Whitcomb’s reasoning* for his classification of SDA as a [anti-assurance, Sabbath-keeping, Law-enslaving] cult:2

1. Source of Authority. Ellen G. White claimed to be, “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” The official SDA Questions on Doctrine (Q.D.) states that, “the Holy Spirit opened to her mind important events and called her to give certain instructions for these last days, and inasmuch as these instructions, in our understanding, are in harmony with the Word of God, which Word alone is able to make us wise unto salvation, we as a denomination accept them as inspired counsels from the Lord” (Q.D., p. 93). (Emphasis added.) Mrs. White claimed to have received more than 3,000 “inspired counsels from the Lord” (i.e., visions) between 1844 and 1868. (From these “visions,” she produced over 100,000 handwritten manuscript pages from which were published 54 books!) Therefore, SDAs have a new source of authority in their lives — according to SDA’s dogma, if an SDA does not accept Mrs. White as infallible, they have no salvation! 

2. Mankind. Seventh-Day Adventists do not believe that the whole man or any part of him is inherently “immortal” (Q.D., p. 518). SDAs believe in “soul sleep” for the saved (i.e., no conscious existence from the time of death until the resurrection), and annihilation for the wicked (i.e., the body and soul are destroyed at death rather than experiencing everlasting torment). How, then, can one get to heaven?: SDAs believe that one can have immortality only on the condition that he comes to Christ through Ellen G. White; i.e., a works program, following salvation by grace with light of revelation through Ellen G. White as the infallible guide to Holy Scripture, apart from which one cannot have immortality.3 Then, at resurrection day, the body will be re-created (necessary because of soul sleep) for all those who believe in White’s guidance and teachings (while non-SDAs will remain in “soul sleep” forever; i.e., will cease to exist [annihilated] and will not suffer everlasting torment).

3. Christ.
Mrs. White: “Christ took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature … Christ took human nature and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He took our nature and its deteriorating condition” (Q.D., pp. 654-656) (cf. Jn. 14:30). According to SDA, then, Christ acquired a sinful nature! Of course, if this could have been so, there could have been no sinless sacrifice, no hope for sinners, and no Savior.

4. Atonement. “Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ” (E.G. White, The Great Controversy [TGC], 1911, p. 623; TGC has since been retitled and published as America in Prophecy, 1988). SDA teaches that, though saved by grace, we are kept by the Law (i.e., “partial atonement”). Therefore, one must keep Old Testament dietary and ceremonial laws, paying particular attention to keep the Saturday Sabbath and the Ten Commandments, and most importantly, making sure to faithfully pay the tithe. 

Even when speaking of being saved by the righteousness of Christ, Adventist writers refer to imparted righteousness, seldom to the Biblical concept of imputed righteousness. Calling it “Christ’s righteousness,” while insisting on the believer’s perfection of character as a prerequisite to salvation, is at worst a thinly veiled works salvation, or at best an attempt to mix grace and works, something the Bible says is impossible to do (Rom. 11:6). Mrs. White’s words are crystal clear — one will not be forgiven until all sins are eradicated from one’s life and one’s character is perfected. Precisely the same heresy is found (besides many others) in Mormonism. It is not the salvation by grace alone through faith alone offered in the Bible.

5. Baptism. “… Christ made it clear that He required baptism of those who wished to become part of His church, His spiritual kingdom”; “In baptism believers enter into the passion experience of our Lord”; “… [B]aptism also marks [a] person’s entrance into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. … it unites the new believer to Christ.… Through baptism the Lord adds the new disciples to the body of believers — His body, the church.… Then they are members of God’s family” (SDAs Believe …, pp. 182, 184, 187).

6. The Investigative Judgment. According to SDA theology, beginning on October 22, 1844, Christ entered upon the “judgment phase” of His ministry, whereby He blots out sin: [The SDA doctrine of the “Investigative Judgment” rests on Ellen G. White’s claimed revelation that Christ entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, not at His ascension, but in 1844, wherein He then began to investigate the records of human works (TGC, pp. 362-373) (cf. Heb. 9).] “When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty” (TGC, p. 422). Satan, thereby, becomes the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. This lack of clear distinction between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, makes it impossible for anyone to know, even in the hour of his death, whether he is saved or not. (SDAs are not “allowed” to experience assurance of salvation, because then there would be no pressure on them to keep the Old Testament law, as interpreted by Ellen G. White, and especially no pressure to pay the tithe.) Moreover, the concept that the sins of all men are to be laid on Satan, assigns to Satan an indispensable role in the blotting out of sin, thus nullifying the all-sufficiency of the finished work of Christ. [When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” i.e. completed, paid in full, it cannot be that there is yet another salvation event more than 1,800 years later, just as essential to salvation as Christ’s death on the cross, in which one must believe in order to be saved. This is clearly “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6–9).]4

The “Investigative Judgment” and the “Scapegoat Theory of the Atonement” are, by themselves, so non-Biblical as to contradict Galatians 1:8-9. It is “another gospel,” about which the Apostle Paul wrote, “let such be anathema” (i.e., cursed/condemned). Yet according to Ellen White, one must believe this doctrine to be saved:

 “Those who would share the benefits of the Savior’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God … The subject of the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [Investigative Judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God … All who have received the light on these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men … It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects … The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross. By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He ascended to complete in Heaven” (TGC, pp. 488–89; emphasis added).

7. The Sabbath. “In the last days, the Sabbath test will be made plain. When this time comes, anyone who does not keep the Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast and will be kept from heaven” (TGC, p. 449); “… [T]he divine institution of the Sabbath is to be restored … The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God’s law and the observance of the Sabbath. … Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast” (TGC, pp. 262–63). In one of her most revered works, Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would be the “line of distinction” in the “final test” that will separate God’s end-time people who “receive the seal of God” and are saved, from those who “receive the mark of the beast” (The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605). Describing a supposed vision direct from God, Ellen White wrote, “I saw that the Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers” (Early Writings, p. 33; emphasis added). She also wrote of some Adventists failing to understand that “Sabbath … observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers” (Ibid., p. 85).

SDAs have, thereby, made Sabbath-keeping a criterion for a personal relationship with the Lord — even to the extent of one’s salvation! Why? Because, according to SDAs, we are all to be under strict adherence to Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments, of which the fourth one says, “keep the Sabbath.” (This Sabbath-keeping requirement was supposedly confirmed in a vision received by Ellen G. White, rather than by study of the Bible.) SDAs believe that “Sunday-keeping” will be the mark of the beast in the future.

8. Ellen G. White, the Prophet. Many rank-and-file SDA members deny that their organization any longer decrees Ellen G. White a God-inspired prophet. Yet in SDA official publications, the SDA church continues to defend Ellen White legends, and maintain there was no difference in the degree of inspiration she received from that received by Bible writers (Review & Herald, 4 October 1928, p. 11; “Source of Final Appeal,” Adventist Review, 3 June 1971, pp. 4–6; G. A. Irwin, Mark of the Beast, p. 1; “The Inspiration and Authority of the Ellen G. White Writings,” Adventist Review, 15 July 1982, p. 3; Ministry, October 1981, p. 8 (5); see also, Judged by the Gospel, pp. 125–130). And in the SDA June 2000, General Conference, the church voted to more aggressively affirm and support the “Spirit of Prophecy through the ministry of Ellen White” (Adventist Today, [online: July 2000]).


* Besides relying heavily on the work of Dr. Whitcomb (1988  Syllabus notes), some of the material in this report has also been excerpted and or adapted from: “Seventh-day Adventist Church Profile,” Timothy Oliver (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1996).


Endnotes

1 The Bible lists six identifying marks of false prophets, any one of which is sufficient for identification: (1) through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Dt. 13:1-4); (2) their prophecies don’t come to pass (Dt. 18:20-22); (3) they contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20); (4) they bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20); (5) men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26); and (6) they deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3), thereby denying His sufficiency in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3). Most cults are founded upon false prophecies, which, if pointed out, offer an effective way to open blind eyes and rescue cultists. SDA originated with similar false prophesies about Christ’s coming. It began with William Miller’s prediction that Christ would return in 1843 (revised to October 22, 1844). Miller admitted his error. However, SDA prophetess Ellen G. White (EGW), who had repeatedly endorsed Miller’s prophecy, insisted that Christ had indeed come, but not to earth. Instead, He had entered “the holy of holies” in heaven “to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits” (The Great Controversy, p. 480).

Number 17 of the “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists” states: “The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.” Yet EGW made numerous false prophecies: that “Old Jerusalem never would be built up” (Early Writings, p. 75), that she would be alive at the Rapture (Early Writings, pp. 15-16), that Christ would return before slavery was abolished (Early Writings, pp. 35, 276), that Adventists living in 1856 would be alive at the Rapture (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 131-132), and many more. Nevertheless, SDAs revere this false prophet’s writings as if they were Scripture.

2 Nevertheless, SDAs are continuing their efforts to be identified as “evangelical Christians.” As an illustration of this effort, SDAs were very prominent at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) held in San Francisco, November 19-21, 1992. They presented themselves in the printed program as the Adventist Theological Society (ATS). During the meetings, they conducted at least eight workshops/seminars open to all the members of the ETS, as well as a general meeting of their own ATS on Saturday morning, November 21st. Likewise, at the 1/97 National Religious Broadcasters Convention, the SDA’s “Voice of Prophecy” booth provided books and tapes of their programs, but there was no indication that this was an SDA organization. Christians need to be aware that cult groups like SDA often use the same Christian-sounding terminology, but the meanings of the words have been redefined.

3 Many quotes could be given to prove that EGW taught salvation by works. Here are a few:

(a) “Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny … though … forgotten by us, they [our works] will bear their testimony to justify or condemn” (TGC, pp. 486-490).

(b) “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life …” (TGC, p. 483).

(c) “Each one of you needs to … [be] working with your might to redeem the failures of your past life. God has placed you in a world of suffering to prove you, to see if you will be found worthy of the gift of eternal life” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 530).

4 This teaching of the “Investigative Judgment” is the foundational doctrine and major heresy of Seventh-Day Adventism: that the atonement was not complete on the cross, but was begun in heaven in 1844 and depends upon our works. According to Ellen G. White (EGW), the blood of Christ, instead of making “an atonement for the soul” (Lv. 17:11) and “cleans[ing] us from all sin” (l Jn. 1:7), brought sin into heaven: “[O]ur sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ” (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 266). Thus, Christ had to begin the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary (of sins His blood had brought there!) through the “Investigative Judgment.” EGW declared that “Ministers who would not accept this saving message” were hindering God’s work and “The blood of souls is upon them” (Early Writings, p. 234). Millerites who adopted this delusion became Seventh-Day Adventists. The whole concept of the Investigative Judgment is antithetical to the Gospel. Jesus did not wait until 1844 to enter the Holy of Holies in heaven (Heb. 1:3; 6:19–20; 8:1; 9:6–12, 24; 12:2). Neither is He still making an atonement in heaven (Heb. 9:25–26; 10:11–14). The Investigative Judgment proposes to “vindicate the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus,” by showing they were “loyal,” “penitent,” and “faithful” commandment keepers. This is an outrage. God’s justice in saving sinners is vindicated by Christ’s death on the cross, period (Rom. 3:24–26).

5 The SDA Church made this statement in their Ministry magazine of October 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” (June 1997, The Baptist Challenge). (Bold added.) This sounds like SDAs also believe that Mrs. White is inerrant.

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FROM biblebelievers.com

The religious sect known as the “Church of Christ” has many peculiar and aberrant doctrines that are contrary to the word of God. It is a most deceptive and dangerous cult. Their teaching of baptismal regeneration is an age-old heresy that has damned millions to hell, and is still doing so today. The idea that they are the one, true and restored church of Jesus Christ puts them in the same league with the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches.

If you are a member of this “church” or have been influenced by its teachings, we challenge you to ask your preacher the questions that follow, then get your King James Bible out, open it up, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the TRUTH (John 16:13). If you have never been saved in the Bible sense, for heaven’s sake, do not mistake being “washed in the baptistry of the church” for being washed in the blood of Christ.

If you ask one of these “preachers” any of the questions in this tract, you won’t get a straight answer due to their “screwball” theology. You’ll have them in “hot water,” “swimming in circles,” trying to explain their heretical positions. They’ll be “hopping all over the pond” because they can’t stay too long in one spot without sinking in the mire of their false doctrines.

Don’t YOU wind up being baptized in the “Lake of Fire” by accepting a “waterworks” based plan of salvation and rejecting salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. (Matt. 3:11; Rev. 20:15; Eph. 2:8,9; Rom. 5:9; Rom. 11:6).

Here are Questions for Campbellites

1. According to the history of the “Church of Christ,” God used certain men to “restore” the New Testament Church in the early 1800’s. Where was the true New Testament church before then? Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). What happened to the church and where was the truth it was responsible for preaching before God restored it?

2. If a “Church of Christ” elder refuses to baptize me, will I be lost until I can find one who will? Do I need Jesus AND a Campebllite “preacher” in order to be saved? If I do, then Jesus Christ is not the only Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and the Holy Spirit is not the only Administrator (1 Cor. 12:13) of salvation – the “Church of Christ” preacher is necessary to salvation for he is performing a saving act on me when he baptizes me! Is this not blasphemy against Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost?

3. If the water pipes broke and the baptistry was bone dry, would my salvation have to wait until the plumber showed up? If I were to die before then, would I go to hell? If obedience to water baptism is the means of forgiveness of sins, then I would.

4. If my past sins are forgiven when I am baptized in water, and it is possible for me to “lose my salvation” and go to hell after being baptized, then wouldn’t my best chance of going to heaven be to drown in the baptistry?!! – before I had a chance to sin so as to be lost again? If I wanted to be absolutely sure of heaven, isn’t that my best opportunity?

5. If as a Christian I can sin so as to “lose my salvation,” just what sin or sins will place me in such danger? Is it possible to know at what point one has committed such a sin, and become lost again? Please be specific and give clear Bible references.

6. If as a Christian I can fall and “lose my salvation,” is it possible to regain it? If so, how? If God “takes away” my salvation, doesn’t that make Him an “Indian giver”? How could I ever know for sure that I was saved or lost?

7. After becoming a Christian, are there any sins that will put me beyond the “point of no return” so that I cannot regain salvation? What sin or sins will put me in such jeopardy, so that, after becoming a Christian, I would be doomed to hell without any recourse? Please be specific and give me clear Bible references.

8. If I committed some sin -whether in thought, word, or deed, one minute before a fatal car crash – would I go to hell if I did not have time to repent of it? And, please, don’t just say that it’s up to God without giving me a specific Bible reference.

9. Why does the “Church of Christ” insist that their name is scriptural when it cannot be found anywhere in the Bible? The church is referred to as the “church of God” eight (8) times in the Bible, but never is it called the “church of Christ.” The verse they use is Romans 16:16, but it doesn’t say “church of Christ.” Where does the Bible call the church the “church of Christ”?

10. If the “Church of Christ” claims to worship God only as “authorized” by scripture because they sing only (and do not use instrumental music), then where do they get the “authority” to use hymnals, pitchpipes, pews, and indoor baptistries in their worship services? If the answer is that they are “aids to worship,” where does the Bible allow for that? Where is your required authorization? If a pitchpipe can be an “aid to worship” for the song service in the “Church of Christ,” then why can’t a piano be an “aid to worship” for Baptists who may need more help in singing?

11. The “Church of Christ” teaches that a sinner is forgiven of sin when he is baptized in water by a Campbellite elder. Where does the Bible teach that water baptism is required in order to have one’s sins forgiven? Every time the phrase “for the remission of sins” occurs it is speaking of the fact that sins have been forgiven previously! The Bible plainly teaches that the forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon repentance of sin and faith in Christ – never upon water baptism! (Matthew 3:11; Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 20:21; Romans 1:16; Romans 4:5; et.al.) Where does the Bible teach that forgiveness of sin is linked with water baptism? When Christ made the statement in Matthew 26:28, “for the remission of sins,” it had to be because they had been forgiven all through the Old Testament! Christ shed His blood because God forgave repentant and believing sinners for thousands of years before the Son of God came to “take away” sins and to redeem us and pay the sin-debt with His own precious blood. How can one say that “for the remission of sins” means ‘in order to obtain’ in light of the fact that God never uses the phrase in that sense? In the Old Testament God forgave sin on the basis of a blood sacrifice (Heb. 9:22) – the Old Testament saints had their sins remitted (i.e., forgiven) but they were not redeemed until Christ came and shed His blood at Calvary. Their sins were covered (Romans 4:7; Psalm 32:1), but the sinner was not cleared of his guilt (Exodus 34:7) until the Cross (Heb.10:4). Before Calvary, the sins of believers were pardoned, but they were not paid for (i.e., redeemed) until the crucifixion (see Romans 3:25 and Heb. 9:12-15). When Jesus said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30), all sin – past, present and future – was paid for, and the plan of salvation was completed, so that ‘whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins’ (Acts 10:43). In Acts 2:38, the people were baptized because their sins were forgiven (at Calvary when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,”) and they received the blessing of forgiveness when they repented of their sin of rejecting Christ and accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord. Friend, heaven or hell depends on what you believe about this.

12. If salvation is not by works of righteousness which we have done, and baptism is a work of “righteousness,” then how can water baptism be a part of salvation? (Titus 3:5; Matt. 3:16) In the Bible, we are SAVED BY GRACE, and grace does not involve human effort or merit grace is grace and work is work! (Just read Ephesians 2:8,9 and Romans 11:6.)

13. The “Church of Christ” teaches that “obeying the Gospel” includes being baptized in water in order to be saved. If this is true, then how is it that the converts of Acts 10 were saved by faith before and without water baptism? The Bible says in Acts 5:32 that only those who obey God may receive the Holy Ghost – so what did those in Acts 10 do to obey and receive the Holy Ghost and be saved? In the light of Acts 10:34-48, Acts 11:14-18, and Acts 15:7-11, how can anyone honestly believe that water baptism is necessary to salvation? Simon Peter said their hearts were “purified by faith” (Acts 15:9) and that we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ like they were (Acts 15:11); that is, before and without water baptism! We know that unsaved people do not receive or have the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; Romans 8:9). We know that the Holy Spirit is given only to those who have believed on Christ (John 7:39). We know that the Holy Spirit seals the believing sinner the moment he puts his faith and trust in Christ as Savior, before he is ever baptized in water (Ephesians 1:12,13). How does the warped theolgy of Campbellism explain away these clear passages of Scripture without “muddying the waters” of truth and drowning its members in eternal damnation?

It would be impossible to discuss all the false doctrines of the “Church of Christ” in this small article. If you have a particular question not dealt with here, or need clarification on the issues discussed, contact us via email or at the phone number or address listed. We will provide you with sane, sensible and scriptural answers to your Bible questions.

http://www.biblebelievers.com/david_martin/martin_church-christ.html

RELATED post

Is the Church of Christ a denomination?  Comments and questions on Baptism by Truthseeker 24  RePost: The Heresy of Restorationsim by Damon Whitsell  WATER BAPTISM: A PAGAN AND JEWISH RITE,BUT NOT CHRISTIAN by James Moon  The “ONE TRUE CHURCH” by Damon Whitsell   PUTTING GOD IN A BOX , the result of the personification of the bible as the Holy Spirit. By Damon Whitsell  Falsely viewing the Holy Spirit as a poetic device known as personification!  The “Church of Christ” Denial of the Present-Day Ministry of the Holy Spirit by chocd.org  DANGER: The Church of Christ By David J. Stewart Church of Christ Legalism Questionnaire What was the fifth century Pelagian Controversy? How was it similar to what is taught in the Church of Christ?  The “Church of Christ” is not the “one true church”! It is a Cult. By Damon Whitsell

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THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MORMANISM

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MORMANISM

 

The following FACTS represent teachings that are either openly taught in theMormon Church today, or that have been taught by the highest authorities of the Mormon Church. All quotes given are from official LDS publications or the Bible.

FACT #1 The Mormon Church teaches ALL other Churches are WRONG; ALL their creeds are an ABOMINATION in the sight of God; and ALL their teachers are corrupt.

One of the Mormon Books of Scripture, The Pearl of Great Price, says this about non-LDS churches:

    “… they were ALL WRONG; and the Personage who addressed me said that ALL their creeds were an ABOMINATION in his sight; that those professors were ALL CORRUPT;…” (Joseph Smith 2:19).

FACT #2. Mormonism teaches there is no salvation outside the Mormon Church and no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this statement:

    “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670)

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches salvation is in Jesus alone:

    “Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

FACT #3. Mormons are taught to doubt the reliability of the Bible and their leaders have consistently attacked its accuracy.

Joseph Smith claimed:

    ” … it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.10)

The Bible answers this attack:

    “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

FACT #4. A basic tenant in Mormonism today is that Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan.

Milton R. Hunter explains it like this:

    “The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer,… this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.” (The Gospel Through The Ages, p.15)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Lucifer attempted to become the Savior: in fact, Jesus created all the angels including Lucifer, so they can’t be brothers. Colossians 1:16 indicates that Jesus created “all things,” whether “in heaven,” or “in earth, visible or invisible.”

FACT #5. Mormonism continues to teach that God the Father is a glorified, resurrected Man, and men and women may become Gods and Goddesses.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this claim:

    “God himself, the Father of us all, is a glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected Man!” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 643)

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught:

    ” …you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you,…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346)

The Lord Himself answers this teaching by pronouncing:

    “… I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

FACT #6. Mormons consider Polygamy a righteous principle which will be practiced in heaven.

Although there is nothing in the Bible that will support this thinking, current Mormon Scripture has this to say:

    “. . .if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery . . . . And if he have TEN VIRGINS given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:61, 62)

FACT #7. Mormons today believe God the Father is married and past leaders have taught both God the Father and Jesus Christ are polygamists.

Apostle Orson Pratt makes these unbelievable statements:

    “. . .the great Messiah who was the founder of the Christian religion, was a Polygamist,. . . the Messiah chose to take upon himself his seed; and by marrying many honorable wives himself, show to all future generations that he approbated the plurality of Wives under the Christian dispensation,. . .God the Father had a plurality of wives,. . . the Son followed the example of his Father,. . . both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time;. . .” (The Seer, p. 172)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that God the Father and Jesus Christ are married or polygamists.

FACT #8. The majority of the activity in the Mormon Temples is work done in behalf of the DEAD.

Joseph Smith offers this explanation:

    “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our DEAD.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356)

Although many Mormons are attempting to save their dead relatives, the Bible indicates:

    “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalms 49:7)

FACT #9. To the Mormon, the ultimate test that Mormonism is true is an “inner feeling.”

Mormons often refer to this feeling as a “burning in the bosom.” They believe their scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) gives the best test for determining truth. This test reads:

    ” . . .study it out in your mind; then you must ask me [the Lord] if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall FEEL that it is right.”

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us:

    “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

FACT #10 Mormon leaders demand total obedience regardless whether they are right or wrong.

The ward teacher’s message for June, 1945, stated:

“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan it is God’s plan.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354)

Herber C. Kimball, First Councilor to Brigham Young, clarifies further:

    “But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 32)

The Bible warns us in I John 4:l:

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

FACT #ll. Mormon leaders have consistently attacked the Biblical doctrine of Salvation by God’s Grace through Faith alone.

In Apostle James Talmage’s book, The Articles of Faith, twice he refers to justification by Faith alone as a “pernicious doctrine,” and further declares:

    “The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith alone has exercised an influence for evil.” (pp. 107, 480)

The Bible responds:

    “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 1)

-Page Top-

FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:

    “… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)

In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:

    “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

    “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

FACT #14. In 1835 Joseph Smith prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord.

At a meeting called by Joseph Smith he instructed the Latter-day Saints that it was “the will of God” to go forth and “prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh-even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 182) Eight years later he reinforced this by stating:

    “I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written – the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till 1 am eighty-five years old.” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 336)

These are obvious False Prophesies which would make Joseph Smith a False Prophet.

FACT #15. Mormons are taught to “shake hands” with a messenger to determine if he is from God or if he is the devil.

The following information is found in Mormon scripture:

    “When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. . . . If it were the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.” (Doctrine and Covenants 129:4, 5, 8)

Rather than trusting in “feelings” the Bible commands us to:

    “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)

FACT #16. Brigham Young claimed that those who leave the Mormon Church would turn “wrinkled” and “black.”

The following curse was pronounced by Brigham Young:

    “. . .but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332)

There have been tens of thousands of people leave the Mormon Church – Where are the “black and wrinkled” ones?

FACT #17. Joseph Smith taught the moon was inhabited by people who dressed like Quakers and lived to be about 1000 years old.

In the Mormon publication, The Young Woman’s Journal, pp. 263 & 264, O.B. Huntington gives this interesting information:

    “As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He [Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”

Now that man has walked on the Moon, there can be no doubt that there aren’t any 6 foot tall Quakers roaming its surface.

CONCLUSION

If all the FACTS are examined, Mormonism can not be considered a Christian denomination or a divinely led institution. Although Mormons are being deceived by their leaders, why not be concerned enough to share the truth in love? Jesus Himself said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

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Most of the information in this article is taken from the sources footnoted.

Restorationism is the claim that the Christian Church fell away from the truths of Jesus and the NT apostles and had to be “RESTORED” to it’s NT state and practice. The whole Christian church had become apostate and non-existent, is their claim. But this allegation is pure folly and uninformed speculation. This is also in total contrast and contradiction to the idea of “REFORM” and the protestant reformation.

The main influence and emphasis of the Restoration Movement of the Cambellite’s and their subsequent offsping religions of the “restorationist” that followed and was spawned from them, is seriously flawed and based on the false assumption that the true Christian Church had been wiped clean from the face of the earth (needing to be completely restored) and that Gods promises about his church and word are not true. In the face of much persecution and attempts to abolish God’s church and word from the face of the earth, there has always been at least a large remnant of true believers and members of the incorporeal and invisible church of God. “’Restorationism’ is based on a belief called the Great Apostasy, that traditional Christianity has departed so far from the original Christian principles that it is not redeemable.” (2) 

The bible contains these promises about itself and Jesus’s Church.

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1Pe 1:25A But the word of the Lord endureth forever.

Isa 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.

The Restoration Movement (also known historically as the “Stone – Campbell Movement”) was started by Alexander Campbell when he opened this church the “Old Philadelphia congregation of the Church of Christ, this congregation came into existence in 1804. The records are in the possession of the church in Warren County, Tennessee.“ (1) The “Church of Christ” denomination had not existed until this point.

Although we mostly know of Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone and Walter Scott to be the founders of the restoration movement, it’s principles and precepts had already been laid by others.

The key principles of the Restoration Movement and the Restorationist are,

1. Christianity should not be divided, Christ intended the creation of one church.

2. Creeds divide, but Christians should be able to find agreement by standing on the Bible itself (from which they believe all creeds are but human expansions or constrictions) instead of on the opinions of people about the Bible.

3. Ecclesiastical traditions divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by following the practice (as best as it can be determined) of the early church.

4.Names of human origin divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by using biblical names for the church (i.e., “Christian Church,” “Church of God” or “Church of Christ” as opposed to “Methodist” or “Lutheran”, etc.). It is in this vein that conservative members of the Churches of Christ object to the phrase “Stone-Campbell Movement.” (1)

The Heretical Restoration Movement is comprised of the Campbellites; Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ., Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.(2) And it is also comprised of members defecting from mainline Christianity. The Religious Affiliation of Alexander Campbell by adhernats.com (3)

The Heretical Churches of Restorationism are, Christadelphians, Latter Day Saint [LDS] movement (The Mormon Church and it’s sub-groups), Adventism, Millerites, Sabbatarianism, Seventh-day Adventists, Charismatic Restorationism, and more. (2)

The false doctrines of restorationism where perpetuated by these silly mottos! Great Slogans of the Restoration Movement by John Wadely.

Each of these false traditions give a different reason for believing the GREAT APOSTACY had taken place and necessitated a total “restoration”.

Restorationist dates for the Great Apostasy (2)

Restorationism is often criticized for rejecting the traditions followed by the early church, but different restoration groups have treated tradition differently. While some view all the Church Fathers as unreliable witnesses to the original Apostolic Church, others find in the earliest Church Fathers proof that the early church believed and practiced as some restorationists do, and the late Church Fathers differences as evidences of a gradual or sudden falling away. Common to all restorationism is the belief that the Church Fathers or post-apostolic church leadership had no authorization to change the church’s beliefs and practices, but did so nevertheless.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the apostasy started after the death of the last apostle, John. They believe that the Holy Spirit held the apostasy back in full force but after John died the spirit let the apostasy grow. They believe that it came in full after the First Council of Nicaea. Still, they believe that throughout all that time there were true Christians alive until the beginning of the restoration.

The Latter-day Saints also assign a very early date for the apostasy, beginning shortly after the deaths of the original Twelve Apostles at approximately 100 AD, and certainly being in a full state of apostasy by the 4th century. With this early date, they claim the least need to reconcile known writings and practices of the early church and Church Fathers. Although their writings are sometimes cited to show reminiscences of earlier true practices, they are also used to demonstrate that doctrine and understanding had been already altered.

The Sabbatarians have generally agreed on the approximate date of 135 AD as the start of the apostasy. Justin Martyr in about 160 AD had specifically defended the first day assembly, and so is considered an apostate to Sabbatarians. Nevertheless, the early church history recorded the continued keeping of the Saturday Sabbath for creation and Sunday Sabbath for the Resurrection in Hippolytus’s time. They view the apostasy as not complete until the church stopped keeping the Sabbath sometime after Constantine.

The Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement views the Great Apostasy as a gradual process. Ignatius promoted obedience to the bishop in about 100 AD,[23] which is viewed by some as signaling the introduction of the idea of a professional clergy, who began to elevate themselves over the people, leading by a gradual process of corruption to the prophesied “man of lawlessness”. Infant baptism, which restorationists condemned as coercive church membership, is similarly viewed. They believe that only adult baptism was practiced at least to the time of Tertullian, but that infant baptism was introduced locally around the time of Irenaeus. They often reject notions of original sin which entail a corruption of human nature, and admit only a defilement of mankind’s habitual environment, traditions or culture. As do other Restorationists, they saw the church-state alliance under Constantine (see also Constantine I and Christianity and Christendom) as a kind of captivity of the church through the centralized power of the bishops. Finally, the development of the idea of the supremacy and universal authority of the Bishop of Rome is considered the completion of the Great Apostasy from which the Protestant Reformation only partially recovered, but most nearly did so among the Anabaptists and the Baptists

If you will investigate for yourself you will see that each of these scenarios is NOT TRUE and purely false. The Restoration movement and all of it’s associated religions or churches are cults based on false doctrine.

In his 1955 book The Rise of the Cults: An Introductory Guide to the Non-Christian Cults, Walter Martin gave the following definition of a cult: “By cultism we mean the adherence to doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity and which yet claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”

These “cardinal doctrines” are generally agreed to be,1. the Trinity 2. the full deity and humanity of Christ 3. the spiritual lostness of the human race 4. the substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ 5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone 6. the physical return of Christ 7. the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.

Certainly all the churches, groups or movements listed in this article meet the criteria to be called cults and in NO WAY could be considered Christian.

All this information and more is covered in the awesome video series “Salvation through water? Church of Christ” 1-14 from Dr. Robert Moory available for viewing on the How2BecomeAChristian.info web site on the “Church of Christ video page” and the VODPOD widget on this blog. The video series is also on the H2bac.info “COC” vodpod @ http://h2bacinfococvideos.vodpod.com/ which has 32 + videos on the COC and it’s doctrines.

Sincerely, IJN, IHS

Damon Whitsell H2bac.info

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(1) http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Restoration-Movement

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restorationism

(3) http://www.adherents.com/people/pc/Alexander_Campbell.html

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“Church of Christ” Topical Video – Campbellism

 Bob L. Ross, author of the book, “Campbellism, Its History and Heresies,” joins Larry Wessels, director of Christian Answers, in this brief review of this 19th-century religious movement. This movement known as “Campbellism” and adhered to by groups known as “Church of Christ,” “Christian Church,” and “Disciples of Christ,” had its beginning primarily through the influence of two immigrants from Ireland. Thomas Campbell, the father, and Alexander Campbell, the son, rebelled against Presbyterianism and ultimately created the Campbellite movement. The Campbells had arrived in America in the early 1800s and later with the help of Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone “restored” the “ancient Gospel” with an emphasis on Acts 2:38 and baptismal remission. Works righteousness is a common feature of Campbellism and plays a large part in many of their strange doctrines such as their denial of the use of musical instruments in the church worship service (among some of their sects).