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Saturday, November 05, 2005

True Christianity and the Cults

Biblically speaking, it is the followers of Jesus Christ (as described within the pages of the New Testament) whom were and are called Christians, yet the tide is turning. There are cults, which are now attempting to turn the table and claim that they are the true Christians and that it is biblically orthodox Christians who are the cults.

Let us offer a practical definition of what a cult is: a cult is a group which has gotten far enough away from its origins and the foundational orthodoxy from whence it came that it is no longer recognizable. Thus, there are four major groups that are technically defined as pseudo-Christian cults and these are The Church of Jesus Christ-Latter Day Saints a.k.a. Mormons; The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society a.k.a. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Science.

The issue is that if you were to mention virtually any orthodox biblical Christian doctrine these groups will deny it. Note however that it is very important to define your terms because on occasion you may find yourself agreeing due to common terminology, yet you will come to find out that when you define terms you will disagree on the meaning.

We will comment on the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular, since these groups have recently commented on this issue. In the beginning these groups set themselves apart from the world of Christendom i.e., they were not Christians but were rather Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. They claimed to be God’s true religion; the Mormons with their priesthood, prophets and extra-biblical scriptures and the Jehovah’s Witnesses with the Watchtower and Kingdom Halls.

These groups are now starting to use a very interesting tactic; they are now claiming to be the true Christians. A Newsweek article made the following observations preceding the 2002 Olympics that took place in Salt Lake City, Utah (the center of the Mormon universe):
“the church now insists it be regarded as a Christian church…the church’s hierarchy recently advised the media that the term Mormon Church is no longer acceptable. Henceforth, officials declared, short references to the church should read: ‘The Church of Jesus Christ.’ In this way the church hopes to emphasize what Mormons share with historic Christianity, not what makes them different…In 1971, images of Jesus appeared only five times in the church’s official monthly publication, the Ensign; in 1999, the Ensign published 119 of them…Jan Shipps, who has studied the Saints for 40 years. [states] ‘After a century of cultivating their separate identity as a religious people, Mormons now want to stress their affinities with traditional Christianity yet highlight their uniqueness.”[i]

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower is teaching,
“True Christians manifest their loyal support of Jehovah’s chosen King by declaring ‘this good news of the kingdom’ to others.—Matthew 24:14. Those who support the Kingdom arrangement through Christ, the Son of the living God, will live to enjoy eternal blessings.”
How do True Christians today show that they are for rule by God? In advocating God’s Kingdom, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not mix in politics or foment rebellion, even in lands where the Witnesses are banned. (Titus 3:1) They make a positive contribution in the way that Jesus and his early disciples did and strive to help people adopt wholesome Biblical values, such as honesty, moral cleanness, and a good work ethic.”

The bottom line is that these groups are claiming to be the authentic Christians and they define orthodox-fundamental-biblical-Christianity as being in error. Do not underestimate the appeal of unorthodox doctrines, for instance if you find it hard to accept the Trinity, the physical resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, hell etc., etc., the pseudo-Christian cults are out there telling you not to worry about it since they believe no such thing themselves while still claiming to be Christians. Liberal and cultic Christianity feed the cults and often, more than just the pseudo-Christian cults but on into some of the non-Christian syncretistic religions (which are not truly syncretistic but pseudo-syncretistic).

Be prepared because more and more it will be orthodox-fundamental-biblical-Christianity that will be defined as not only cult-like but, as we already are, narrow and bigoted and it will be the pseudo-Christian cults that will be hailed as open minded, liberal and diverse.

[i] Kenneth L. Woodward, “A Mormon Moment,” Newsweek, (Sep. 10, 2001), p. 48
[ii] “The Real Jesus,” The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, (The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Dec. 15, 2001), p. 8
[iii] “Questions From Readers,” The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, (The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Dec. 15, 2001), p. 30

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