Blog Archive

Followers

Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Three Signs of a Religious Cult - Denying Essential Doctrines

We are all familiar with dog lovers versus cat lovers, Coke versus Pepsi, Mac versus PC; people like to divide themselves by their preferences. However, there are some things that are divided not by preference, but by the facts of the matter. Whales and dolphins, for example, look like fish, live in water like fish and swim like fish. However, they are not fish but mammals. We know this because mammals have certain essential features that fish don't have. There is a nature to fish and a nature to mammals, and whales and dolphins have a mammalian nature. No matter their preference, their nature says "you are a mammal, not a fish."

The nature of God, like the nature of mammals, is what defines God. The Christian God has a certain nature; there are essential attributes that make the God of Christianity God. If one teaches that God has different attributes, you are no longer talking about the God of Christianity and therefore you no longer teaching Christianity. You are teaching something fundamentally different.

In my last two posts, I've begun to explain some identifying characteristics of any religious movement that could be defined as a cult of Christianity. While the word cult immediately evokes mind control or armed compounds, it's more formal definition much more broad. As I've explained before, the word is used to express the idea of being seduced away from the historic Christian faith. That is really the third marker of cult of Christianity: it is any sect that claims to be Christian but teaches a denial of one or more of the essential doctrines that make Christianity what it is.

What are some of the essential doctrines of Christianity? Well here are a few:
  1. The nature of God: Christianity defines God as one being in three persons. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that God is one person and Mormons claim that God is multiple beings. Christian Science also denies the Trinity, with Eddy writing "The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I  AM."[1]
  2. The nature of Christ: Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus, claiming He's a created being. Mormons hold that Jesus was the physical offspring of Elohim and a spirit brother of all humans. In Christian Science, "Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God."[2]
  3. The nature of salvation: Salvation is wholly accomplished by Christ on the cross. However the Book of Mormon teaches that "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." [3] The Watchtower teaches that Jesus' death paid the ransom only for sin inherited from Adam, but believers' names won't be committed to the Book of Life until they pass the test of loyalty.[4] Christian Science teaches ""One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner's part."[5]
Other essential doctrines include the nature of man, the Second coming, and the person and work of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs have provided the framework for Christianity since its very beginning. The early church fathers were very careful when teachings that contradicted these would be offered; they would ultimately censure the teachers as heretics. Heresy is another word that has been weakened in modern times, but it is a proper label for these modern movements that attempt to supplant the truth of Christian theology with their own.

Heresy used to be a more serious charge as people understood that by changing any essential doctrine also changes the nature of the belief. It would be like claiming to be a fish but not having gills. For while these movements may look Christian on the outside, their nature shows they are not what they claim to be.

References

[1] Eddy, Mary Baker. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. (Boston: Mary Baker Eddy Foundation, 1986) 256. Accessed online at <http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/(chapter)/chapter-ix-creation#anchor.1.9>

[2] Eddy, Ibid. 361. <http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/(chapter)/chapter-xi-some-objections-answered#anchor.1.11>

[3] Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1948. Print. 92.

[4] McClane, Joe. "Understanding the Jehovah's Witness Teaching of the Ransom Sacrifice and the Atonement." Accessed online at http://www.joemcclane.com/ROB/ransom.pdf> 8/2/2013

[5] Eddy, Ibid. 23. < http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/(chapter)/chapter-ii-atonement-and-eucharist#anchor.1.2 >

1 comment:

  1. nice piece of information, I had come to know about your internet site from my friend vinay, delhi,i have read atleast 12 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new post, once again hats off to you! Thanx a ton once again, Regards, obiee training in hyderebad

    ReplyDelete

Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X