-Jehovah’s Witnesses are followers of the misinterpretations of Charles Taze Rusell and J. F. Rutherford.
-Christian Science are followers of the misinterpretations of Mary Baker Eddy.
-The Mormon’s are followers of the misinterpretations of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
-From a theological viewpoint, the cults contain many major deviations from historical Christianity. Yet, paradoxically, they continue to insist that they are entitled to be classified as Christians. Cults constitute a growing trend in America- a trend that is away from the established Christian churches and the historic teachings of the Bible- with an emphasis on saving oneself apart from Biblical revelation.
As true believer’s coming from a biblical perspective, where false teachers and false teachings are concerned, we are to have compassion and love for those who are enmeshed in the teachings of the false prophets, but we are to vigorously oppose the teachings, with our primary objective to be the winning of the soul and not so much the winning of an argument. We must never forget that cultists are souls for whom Jesus died for as the Bibles says in I John 2:2, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Our purpose is to try and point out the flaws of the various cult systems and to provide the information that will enable Christians to both answer cultists and to present effectively to them the claims of the Gospel of Christ, with a deep concern for the redemption of their souls. It is the aim of this study to familiarize us with the great heritage that is ours in Christ and be challenged to more effectively live and witness for our Saviour.
The American Banking Association has a training program that exemplifies our aim for teaching about cults. Each year this association sends hundreds of bank tellers to Washington, DC in order to teach them to detect counterfeit money, which by the way is a source of great loss of revenue to the Treasury Department. It is most interesting that during the entire two-week training program, no teller touches counterfeit money. Only the original passes through their hands. The reason for this is that the American Banking Association is convinced that if a man or woman is thoroughly familiar with the original or non-counterfeit bills, he or she will not be deceived by the counterfeit bills, no matter how much like the original it appears. And so we believe if the average Christian would become familiar with the great fundamentals of the Christian Faith, he or she would be able to easily detect those counterfeit teachings so apparent in the cults that set them apart from Historical Biblical Christianity.
-One big problem that mainline Christians have in dealing with cultists is that we have failed in large part to understand their false teachings and to develop a workable methodology both to evangelize and to refute cult adherents in love.
-On encountering a cultist, we must always remember that you are dealing with a person who is familiar with Christian terminology, and who has carefully redefined it to fit into the system of thought that he or she now embraces. The Christian must realize that for every Biblical or doctrinal term that we mention, a redefinition light flashes on in the mind of the cultist, and a lightning-fast redefinition is accomplished. We must realize that the cultist will seemingly agree with the doctrine under discussion while in reality firmly disagreeing with it. By understanding this tactic, we will be on our way to dealing effectively with cult terminology which is totally different than historical Christian terminology even though it may use the same words.
Let it never be forgotten that cultists are experts at lifting texts out of their respective contexts without proper concern for the laws of language or the established principles of Biblical interpretation. These are those of whom Peter warned about in II Peter 3:16 who, “Wrest (pervert)…..the scriptures, unto their own destruction.” This is a most accurate picture of the cultist when it comes to agreeing on biblical terminology.
-The Psychological Structure of a cult.
-First and foremost, the belief systems of the cults are characterized by close-mindedness. They are not at all interested in a rational, cognitive evaluation of the facts. The organizational structure interprets the facts to the cultist, generally invoking the Bible and/or its founder as the ultimate source of its pronouncements. Such belief systems are in isolation, and they never shift to logical consistency. They exist in what we might describe as separate compartments in the cultists mind and are almost incapable of penetration or disruption if the individual cultist is completely committed to the authority pattern of his or her organization.
-Second, cultic belief systems are characterized by genuine antagonism on a personal level, since the cultist almost always identifies his or her dislike of the Christian message along with the messenger who holds such opposing beliefs.
-Third, almost without exception, all cultic belief systems manifest a type of institutional dogmatism and a pronounced intolerance for any position but their own.
-The fourth and final point in any analysis of the belief systems of cults is the factor of isolation. Isolation is the outright denial of contradictions within cultist belief systems. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses are well aware of the fact that the Watchtower organization under the leadership of Judge Rutherford maintained that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would return to the earth before the close of the 1920’s, and even bought a home for the patriarchs to dwell in San Diego called the “House of Princes” or “Beth Sarim.” Of course the patriarchs did not materialize on schedule but yet they still cling tenaciously to the same principles of prophetic misinterpretation that conceived and brought forth these now defunct interpretations of previous Watchtower leaders. Another instance was a prediction that the Battle of Armageddon would occur in 1975. It obviously hasn’t occurred as of yet, but loyal Jehovah’s Witnesses are still pounding on the doors of America, telling of the supposed “light” they receive through the leaders of the Watchtower Organization.
-The difference between the cult and the occult.
-Three characteristics are identify the Occult (Handbook, by Josh McDowell)
1- The occult deals with things secret or supposedly hidden.
2- The occult deals with operations or events which seem to depend on human powers that go beyond the five senses.
3- The occult deals with the supernatural, the presence of either angelic or demonic forces.
-In short, the occult involves the “dark side” of the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
-Characteristics of Cults (Handbook, by Josh McDowell)
1- They believe that they have “new” truths never before revealed. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
-They have received “new revelation.”
2- They believe that they also have a new interpretation of Scripture. (Example, New World Translation, Book of Mormon etc)
-Often they claim that they are the only ones with a correct interpretation, and that you need them to interpret it for you. (Example, The Watchtower Society)
3- They have a Non-biblical source of authority.
4- They have another Jesus. (Not the Biblical Christ)
5- They believe non-biblical teaching on the nature of God.
6- They have changing theology. Often it changes to cover up obvious flaws and failures in their current theology.
7- They have Strong leadership that never admit they can be wrong. (Jim Jones, David Koresh)
8-They believe in a works salvation.
9- They promote false prophecy.
-Some Biblical guidelines in dealing with cults or other false religions.
-We should always examine the truth more closely then we do other religions. II Timothy 2:15 says we are to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
-Follow Biblical guidelines when dealing with false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:18-22 says, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
-Pray for and trust the Holy Spirit’s leading. John 14:26 says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
-Try the spirits. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
-Understand the reality of forces that would seek to do harm. Do not be naïve! Colossians 2:8 tells us to, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
-Be concerned for the individual. Jude verses 22 & 23 says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
-Give the gospel every time. This should be our first instinct. Do not look for an argument. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”