For your Friday: Five comparisons between cults and Christianity.

1. A cult will give you a set of rules and things to do to achieve special status or salvation.

Christianity says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the give of God.”  – Ephesians 2:8

There is nothing we can do to achieve right standing before God.

2. A cult will give you a set of requirements you must keep to maintain your status in the group.

Christianity says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Working to maintain our status or salvation is a false idol that leads to fatigue and a tired soul.

3. A cult will tell you not to associate with those outside of your group who have rejected your message – including your family.

Christianity says: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27-28

Christians must actively engage and love those outside the church.

*Editors note: The point I am communicating here is not that all those outside the church are our enemies. What I am attempting to communicate here is that if we are to love EVEN our enemies, and pray EVEN for those who would seek to abuse us, then certainly we are to love and engage anyone outside the church, enemy or not.

4. A cult will claim special revelation that is only achievable by joining their group.

Christianity says: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13

The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe, not those who give a certain amount of money or do certain things. Jesus is the Way and the Truth. Anyone who claims special revelation outside of Christ is leading you astray.

5. A cult will deny either the work or deity of Jesus Christ.

Christianity says: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” – 1 John 2:23

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:12, 14

Christ is the Son of God, who has made a one-time sacrifice for all sin.



4 thoughts on “Cults and Christianity”

James M · April 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I find this outlook interesting, especially point 3. I have seen many “churches”, often “mainstream” (pardon the over use of “” but they do get the sarcasm across nicely, no?) where they have…prodded members of the congregation to cut themselves off from their friends, and their family, if said individuals are not of the same Church as the person in question. Encouraged, to the point that I have witnessed friends torn as to what to do.

A good friend of mine nearly became completely estranged from her parents because of one such “Church”. I find it…sad, I guess is the right word, how often a group calling it self a Christian church can end up being more so, a cult.

Just my two cents for Friday.

    goingtodamascus · April 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Indeed, James. It is sad to see when this happens. I know many people who have come out of those types of environments. I think this is what happens when one leader has absolute control over a church. How does the old saying go? “Power corrupts..absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

Cheryl · April 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

What about former Christians, who now deny Jesus is ‘the’ Christ, and now call themselves Jewish? In light of 2 John:7-11. This is a very personal question to me, as I have precious family members, who have gone down this path. All stemming from the internet, and those who think themselves wise. I believe I must follow the Bible’s teaching and not fellowship with those who deny Jesus. Is this trampling the blood of Jesus under foot? Hebrews 6:4-6. My heart is breaking here.

goingtodamascus · April 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Cheryl,

Thank you for your response. Please allow me to share in your grief and confusion over this issue. After the response on my previous bacon post I received from Christians turned Jews, as well as a conversation with a friend of mine recently, and now your response, I am coming to see that this is a much bigger issue than I was even aware of. I had no idea that there were such large groves of Christians leaving the faith for Judaism – for heresies like JW or Mormons I knew this happened, but not to regress in faith.

I have prayed and read about this question this afternoon. I have not arrived at any clear answers, and I think this passage in Hebrews 6 is probably one of the hardest to understand in the scriptures. I am coming at this question from a couple foundational standpoints. First, I do not believe it is possible for a truly regenerate, repentant Christian to lose their salvation. I believe it is a treasure stored in heaven that cannot be corrupted or destroyed (1 Peter 1:4) when we are sealed by the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Paul also address this greatly in Romans 5-8.

I also believe that when Christ died on the cross, he actually purchased the salvation for his bride, his chosen, on that day. Whomever the father gave him on that day, he will never lose (John 6:37-40).

In light of that position, what are we dealing with in Hebrews 6? My view is this: if Christians can never lose their salvation (what love is this that the Father bestows on us?), then those mentioned in this passage could never have truly been regenerate Christians. They have seen the work of the Holy Spirit, they have seen and heard the gospel being preached, they have intellectual head knowledge, but have never truly been repentant, regenerate Christians. For this reason, what the author is telling us is that nothing we can say or do is going to lead them to repentance – they have heard and seen it all already.

However, throughout scripture we see over and over again that it is the Spirit of God who opens our hearts to receive his gospel. Only through the power of the spirit can we ever come to believe in him, and there is no heart to hard, no sin to great, for the Holy Spirit to convict. This I believe is why, in the case of someone who has heard and knows the faith but now rejects it, we can only but pray for them, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin and bring them to repentance.

I would also look at Galatians, specifically chapter 3. The church Paul is writing to has abandoned the teachings of Christ and have been sucked back in by judaizers who would seek to put them back under the old covenant. If Paul wanted us to cut ourselves off from such people who regress from Christianity to Judaism, I do not think we would see the pleading words Paul takes with that church. Yes he admonishes them, but he also pleads with them to return back to the teachings and freedom of Christ.

This should give us some insight over how to interact with former Christians who have reverted to Judaism. We continue to plead with them, admonish them in their errors, and pray for them to come – for the first time – to the foot of the cross.

In addition, here are my thoughts on 2 John. In light of verses 7-9, as well as much of 1 John, I believe the apostle John is here referring to traveling false teachers and preachers – false heretical Christians (such as Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons). Jesus himself associated with sinners as we well know, and 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 tells us that if we didn’t associate with sinners of the world, we would have to remove ourselves from the world!

It appears these passages like 2 John are referring specifically to those who would claim a different Christ and try to lead others away. Jews do not preach a different Christ-they preach no Christ at all.

As I wrote in some of my responses on bacon, and in my second language post, when people leave the faith they generally think they now hold superior knowledge and have the market cornered on truth. As you communicated in your comment, your family now thinks themselves wise. It may be appropriate to really research and have rebukes ready for their arguments and false wisdom.

To summarize, I think it is appropriate and necessary to continue to love on and communicate with your family. More importantly, pray fervently and without ceasing for their salvation. Make it clear to them that you do not agree with their decisions – and be prepared to address their arguments when necessary – but do not beat them over the head with something they already have head knowledge of. Pray that it pierces the heart. Lastly, stand encouraged! Salvation belongs to The Lord, and does not rest on our efforts. We just need to stay hopeful and faithful, carrying out our partnership in the ministry of the gospel. Those who belong to Christ will come.

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