BL - 29 Cults

                   Cult simply means ‘False teaching movements’ within Christianity.  There are many such groups all over the world.  These cult movements teach against common salvation and faith (Jud. 3).  Although these cult movements teach against the common faith of the Christians and the general teaching of the Bible, they themselves claim Christians.  Hence, it is important that every true Christian believer must have the knowledge of these False teaching movements so that they can be aware and can keep their Christian faith intact.
Objective of the course
                   This subject will help to the Christians to identify the False teachers as well as their teachings.  It will also help them that they may lead good Christian life and they may protect the fellow believers from falling into the hands of these false teachers.
What is a cult?
                   A cult is a religious movement which usually misinterprets and distorts the central message of the Bible and acts against general orthodox faith of Christianity.
The basic difference between a religion and a cult
Religion :  It is a system of faith on a supreme being and worship of that being based on some traditions or scripture.
Cult :  A cult movement deviates away from a world religion and it misrepresents and misinterprets the orthodox faith of the religion.  All the cults deviate from the Biblical Christianity. 
Radical characteristics of a Cult movement
  1. A cult movement mixes elements of error with truth. (Similar to mixing poison in milk)
  2. It either adds or subtracts from the scripture to propagate its false teaching.
  3. A cult movement falsely quotes the teaching of Christ or of the Bible to get the support for its perverted teaching.
  4. A cult movement is usually founded and controlled by a strong leader.
  5. A cult movement gives extra-ordinary power and authority to a person or a leader or a group of people?
  6. It generally adds extra Biblical revelations and teachings of its leaders to the scripture. It gives more important to the false teachings of its leaders than right teaching of the Bible.
  7. A cult movement propagates that it has the sole claim over truth.
  8. A cult movement claims superiority over all others.
  9. Every cult movement has great zeal to propagate their false teaching.
  10. All cult movements suppress the individuality of their members. Every member surrenders his or her freedom of thought to his / her leader and does what the leader says without reasoning or questioning.
Possible reasons for the Growth of Cults
  1. The cult movements train their members in a systematic way on their false teaching and send them like missionaries but only among Christians. They will always go to a place where Christians are.
  2. Their members pay door to door visitation to propagate the false teaching.
  3. They usually send women, or young men or girls to visit and attract people.
  4. They attract people through friendship, fellowship, financial helps etc.
  5. They publish many booklets, tracts, and literature with attractive formats.
  6. They also use mass-media for their false propaganda.
  7. They have many free correspondence courses. Since their course is free, many fall in their trap of false teaching.
  8. They demand more offering from their members.
Moreover, the cults are growing, because the true Churches do not teach the scripture properly to the Christians.  If every church teaches the Bible properly to its members, the cult may not grow fast.
Biblical views and warnings on Cults (False Teachers)
  1. Christ warns against fale Teachers. 7 : 15-23 ; 24 : 5
  2. If a teaching does not glorify Jesus Christ, that teaching is certainly false – 1 Jn. 2 : 18-19 ; 4 : 1-3 ; Jude. 4
  3. False Teachers will pervert the scripture –  2 Pet. 2 : 1-2 ; 3 : 16-17.
  4. Demons use false prophets and teachers to spread false teachings –     1 Tim. 4 : 1-3.
  5. False teachers appear as if they were ministers of God – 2 Cor. 11 : 13-15.
  6. They (False Teachers) claim that they see dreams often – Jude 8.
  7. They are always greedy for money – Jud. 9 – 13
How to face the cults
  1. Every Christian must study the scripture and Biblical doctrine clearly – 2 Tim. 2 : 15
  2. Christians must be able to teach patiently to those who oppose – 2 Tim. 2 : 24-25
  3. Christians must give more importance to evangelism – Mt. 28 : 18-20
  4. We must teach fellow Christians and make them aware of the spiritual subversion of the cults (Eph. 5 : 5-7).
  5. Do not have spiritual fellowship with false teachers – 2 Cor. 6 : 14-18
  6. Refuse profane, myths and stories – 1 Tim. 4 : 7
  7. Do not try to give answers to their foolish arguments – 2 Tim. 2 : 23 (Avoid arguments).
  8. Do not entertain false cultic teachers in your house or church – 2 Jn. 9 – 11
  9. Be ready to give reasons for our Christian faith – 1 Pet. 3 : 15
  10. Be prepared to contend for the faith – Jude 3.
How to prevent and to preserve the church from Cults
                   We suggest some practical ways that would help you to have valuable ideas to protect the church from cults.
  1. The churches must take the initiative to confront the threat of the cults.
  2. All believers must be informed about the cults, their presence, activities and dangers.
  3. Regular teaching must be given to the church regarding cults through seminars or counseling.
  4. Teach the basic doctrines of the Bible to the new believers so that they will not fall in the trap of cults.
  5. Teach the scripture properly and systematically to the believers.
  6. Train all believers on “How to confront the cults”.
  7. Provide special counseling session for those who are attracted to cults.
  8. The church must pay more attention to the spiritual growth of young people in its congregation.
  9. The church must encourage the believers to involve in evangelism.
  10. The church must meet the spiritual needs of believers and fill the spiritual vacancy through prayer and Bible study.
                   It is a cult group, although it claims to be a Christian movement.
Its Background
                   Mary Baker Eddy was born in a Christian family.  Her father Mark Baker was a believer.  Mary disagreed with him in the matter of faith.  She opposed him in religious matters.
                   Once she was severly afflicted by a spinal weakness.  She came to know about a man named Phineas P. Quimby who was reportedly said that he healed many without medicine.  He said his system “the science of the Christ”.  She went to him for cure.  Although she was not healed, she believed herself to have been healed by him.  So Mary also decided to follow his system but she called her system “Christian Science”.
                   She founded the Massachusets Metaphysical College in 1881.  She also wrote many articles and books which were against the True Christian faith based on the Bible.
Its Teachings
                   Christian Science makes statements as if it believes the Bible and its authority.  However, in actual practice, Christian Science gives importance to the teaching of Mrs. Eddy and to her self-styled interpretation of the scripture.  Many of the interpretations are quite different from the basic beliefs of the Bible.  Her idea about God is very hard to understand, often confused.  Her idea of God is similar to Pantheism (All is god and god is all).  But the Bible says there is only One God (Deut. 6 : 4).
                   Her teaching concerning Jesus Christ is also far away from the Bible truth.  According to her, Christ is not a person but merely an idea of God.  This is utterly wrong – Because the Bible teaches very clearly that Jesus is Divine – born, lived in the world, Died, resurrected and ascended into heaven (Jn. 1 : 1-3, 10, 30).  Disciples touched him and loved him (1 Jn. 1 : 1-3).
                   They also falsely teach Jesus is “the way – shower”. But the Bible clearly teaches that “Jesus is the only Way”.  He is not the way shower.  He is the way, none can come to the Father without Him. (Jn. 14 : 6).
                   The most dangerous teaching of Christian Science is concerning the Holy Spirit.  They equal Mary Bary Baker Eddy to the Holy Spirit.  This means that she is holy spirit and she is equal to deity.  This is blasphemous.   Hence true believer will reject this teaching as well as Christian Science.
                   The mormons, themselves call ‘The church of Jesus Christ of Later – Day Saints”.  Although this titles is very attractive to people, the teaching of mormons are deceptive in every aspect.
Its founder 
                    Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder.  His parents were Christians.  But he did not join anychurch.  He frequently claimed that he had received many visions from a “Resurrected personage” named Moroni.  He also said that he got some “Golden Plates”.  (It was a lie).
Its Development 
                     Brigham Young (1810-1877) became the Second President of Mormons (The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).  It was established in 6th April 1830 in New York.
                   According to Mormon’s traditions, Smith got a miraculous glass, through which the translation appeared to him in English.   When he translated the plates sitting behind a screen, an assistant recorded his dictation.  By this, he published the ‘Book of Mormons’ in 1830.  After that, he moved place to place in America.  He was accused of many misdeeds including immorality and counterfeiting.  Finally, he was arrested in Illinois.  When he was in the jail, an angry mob stormed the jail and killed him and his brother.  After their death Brigham Young led their followers.
                   They have two books for their false practices, namely ‘the Book of Mormons’ and ‘the pearl of Great Price’.  To attract uninformed Christians into their deceptive teachings, they first use the Bible as their source book.  The Book of Mormons covers nearly a period of one thousand years (600 BC – 400 AD).  For which they have no archaeological evidence.  Joseph Fielding Smith, a past president of their council also admitted that they have no evidence.  But our Bible has many archaeological evidences in  Israel, the Holy Land.  Although the Bible has many proofs for being the word of God, Mormons reject it and follow their own deceptive teachings from the Book of Mormons.
Its teachings 
                     As they reject the Trinity of Godhead, they also reject the spirituality of God.  They say God has only a body of flesh and bones.  But the Bible clearly teaches that God is Spirit (John. 4 : 24).  The Bible also teaches, God exists in three persons in one Godhead (Mt. 28 : 19 ; 2 Cor. 13 : 14).  Hence we understand their teaching is contrary to the Bible.
                   They believe in many gods.  They teach even dead persons become God.  But the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (Deut. 6 : 4).  The dead person can not become god, because after death, they have to face judgement (Heb. 9 : 27).  So how they (dead persons) can become gods!
                   They advocate polygamy.  One mormon person may have more than one wife at the same time.  But the Bible advocates one wife is good for a Christian family (1 Tim. 3 : 2 ; Tit. 1 : 6).
                   Their teaching on salvation is also confusion and opposed to the Bible.  They say that one must believe Joseph Smith (Founder) to be saved.  But the Bible very clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is the only Sviour of the world (Act. 4 : 12 ; Jn. 1 : 12 ; 3 : 16-18 ; 5 : 24 ; 6 : 37).
Note :  There are many other scripture evidences which prove that Mormon’s teaching is opposed to the Bible.
                   Although this movement believes the Bible as God’s word, some of its teachings are far away from what the scripture really teaches.
Its founder :  William Miller (1782-1849) founded this movement along with Ellen G. White (1827 – 1915) Ellen G. White was a so-called prophetess of Seventh Day Adventism (SDA).  William Miller predicted in his prophecies that the world would come to an end in 1843-44.  This went wrong.  This is an example of their false belief.
Its Development 
                   William Miller’s prophecies and teachings were published in the periodical, named ‘The Signs of the Times’.  After Miller’s death, this movement was led by three important persons – Hiram Edson, Joseph Bates and Ellen G White.  In 1860, the name SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST was officially adopted as the name of denomination.  They give more importance to the ‘signs of the times’ like earthquakes,   falling stars and wars.
Its Teaching
           Generally they believe the Bible as the inspired word of God.  They add   Miller’s prophecies with the teaching of the Bible although the Bible warns that no prophecies should be added to the scripture (Rev. 22 : 18-19).
                   However, they strongly believe the doctrine of Trinity.  They also believe the deity of Jesus Christ.  According to the teaching of SDA, Salvation is available in the substitutionary atonement of Christ.  Although they teach salvation by grace, they believe that one’s faithfulness is necessary in keeping the commandments, especially observing Sabbath day (Saturday).
Observance of the Sabbath
                     SDA strongly advocates the observance of the Sabbath on the Seventy Day (Saturday) of the week.  They say one may lose one’s salvation, if one does not observe Sabbath.  This teaching is clearly contradicting the teaching of New Testament and the practice of First Century Christians.
Additional Notes on Sabbath
                   The Bible says “Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy works, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God”.  It is very clear that the Sabbath of the Ten commandments is Saturday, the Seventh day of the week.  It was a ceremonial law given to the Jews.  It was not a moral law.  Hence the early Christians especially gentile Christian did not practice it.
                   Sabbath was given as a ceremonial law by Moses on the Mount of Sinai.  Before Mount Sinai, Even the people of Israel never observed Sabbath.  Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob during their life time never observed Sabbath.   On the day of Pentecost, the New Testament church began.  From that day the early church did not give importance to Sabbath, but they worshipped the Lord daily (Act. 2 : 46).
Why Sabbath observance is not necessary for Christians?
  1. The Bible does not command Christian to keep Sabbath. (Sabbath was ceremonial law to the Jews, not for Christians)
  2. We can worship the Lord daily as the early church practiced (Act. 2 : 46).
  3. Jerusalem Council (Act 15) did not command the gentile Christians to observe the Sabbath.
  4. Paul wrote to the believers in Galatians that observation of Moses’ law including Sabbath will not help a sinner to be justicied (Gal. 3 : 11).
  5. Turning back to the law of Moses is equal to be cursed (Gal. 3 : 10).
  6. We are saved by grace (Eph. 2 : 8), not by works or observance of Sabbath.
  7. The early Christians including Apostles worship the Lord on the first day of the week (Sunday = the Lord’s day, Acts. 20 : 7 ; 1 Cor. 16 : 2)
                   Although this movement uses the name of Jehovah, it does not give the importance to the teachings of Jehovah and of the Bible.
Its foundation
                   Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) was first a Congregationalist and then a Seventh Day Adventist.  After that, he promoted his own deceptive teaching through Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society since 1884.  He also published a series of studies in seven volumes titled “Studies in the scriptures”.
Its Development
                   After Russell, Joseph Franklin Rutherford succeeded as President of the Watch Tower and Bible Society in 1917.  In 1931, Rutherford coined the title “Jehovah’s Witness” for his organization.  The Watch Tower Society divided into two groups due to a schism in 1917.  Many followed Rutherford and some others formed a new organization called “The Dawn Bible students Associations”.
Note :  Now, there are at least four groups in India who follow the deceptive doctrine of Jehovah Witnesses.
                   They use Isaiah 43 : 10 “Ye are my witnesses, Saith Jehovah and I am God” ( Is. 43 : 10-12) as their key word.  But the prophet Isaiah did not mean and write this verse as Jehovah Witnesses use it.
Its Teachings
                   They introduce their own doctrine in their book “Let God be true”.  But their teaching has perverted many truths of God’s word.
                   They have their own translation of the Bible known as “The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures and the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures”.  In these translations, they have violated many grammatical principles of Greek language.
Ex. John. 1 : 1 “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God”.  This is the right translation according to the Greek grammer.  But they have wrongly translated this verse to suit to their deceptive teaching by adding an “a” in the last phrase “the word was a God”.  Adding this “a” in this verse is very much wrong and has violated the principles of Greek grammer, as well as the teaching of the Bible.  False translation will result in False theology.  Hence it is good to reject their translation as well as their teachings.
                   They deny trinity of God.  But the Bible has given numerous evidences for Trinity of Godhead.
Biblical Support for Trinity
                   The Bible very clearly teaches that God is one and He is three persons.  In Genesis 1 : 26 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”.  In this verse, God uses plural pronouns ‘Us’ and ‘ours’ to refer Himself; this clearly implies the existence of the Trinity.
                   The New Testament also supports the doctrine of Trinity.  During the baptism of Jesus Christ, God, the Father spoke from heaven and sent the Holy Spirit in the form of dove.  In this incident, we could see three persons at the same time (Mt. 3 : 13 ; Lk. 3 : 21-22).  Moreover, when Jesus charged the Great Commission to the disciples, He said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28 : 19).  In this verse, the word “name” is singular, even though it refers to three distinct persons.  The Apostle Paul also referred to the Trinity in one of his benedictions (2 Cor. 13 : 14).
                   Although the Bible gives enough evidence in support of Trinity, Jehovah Witness’ followers blindly and outrightly deny this truth of Trinity.
Additional Biblical support for Trinity
                   Gen. 11 : 7 ; Jn. 10 : 30 ; Jn. 14 : 9-11,13,16,20,26 ; 15 : 23
Jesus Christ
                   Jehovah Witnesses belittle Jesus Christ by their deceptive teachings.  They deny the Deity of Christ.  They have mistranslated John. 1 : 1 to belittle Jesus and his deity.  But the Bible has many supports for the deity of Jesus Christ. 
Biblical Support for the Deity of Jesus Christ
                   When Jesus equaled Himself to the Father, He really meant that He, Himself is God (John. 5 : 17-18, 10 : 30).  The Jews understood Jesus’ statement.  Therefore they said “ . . . . God was His Father, making Himself equal with God”  (Jn. 5 : 18).  This passage clearly indictes that Jesus claimed deity and for the same reason the Jews sought to kill Him.  After resurrection, when Thomas confessed Jesus as God, Jesus accepted the confession of Thomas (Jn. 20 : 28).  Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for this statement.  This means Thomas was right when he said “My God” by referring Jesus.
Note :  Jesus rebuked His disciples whenever they made errors.  (Mt. 16  22-23 ; 15 : 15-16).  But He did not rebuke Thomas for this statement.  This implies that Jesus is God as Thomas confessed.
Additional Supports for Jesus’ Deity
                   Jn. 14 : 9 ; Jn. 1 : 14, 18 ; 8 : 58 ; 1 Tim. 6 : 15-16 ; 1 John 5 : 20 ; Jude 25
Warning Note
                   Jehovah Witness  sometimes use Proverb 8 : 30-31, to belittle Christ’s deity.  But Proverb chapter ‘8’ has nothing to do with the birth and deity of Christ.  The whole chapter deals with wisdom.  Wisdom is personified and referred with personal pronouns.  She, I, me etc. (8 : 1,2,4,15 ; 9 : 1).  So, in Proverb 8 : 30-31, wisdom speaks herself.
Holy Spirit
                   Jehovah Witnesses do not believe the Holy Spirit.  But the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14 : 16-18, 26 ; 15 : 26 ; 16 : 7-14 ; Eph. 4 : 30 etc.)
                   Although Jehovah Witnesses teaches that man is a created being, they do not believe man’s soul and spirit.  But the Bible clearly teachees man has body, soul and spirit. (1 Thes. 5 : 23 ; Heb. 4 : 12 ; Mt. 10 : 28).
Special Note
                   Since Jehovah Witnesses have mistranslated the Bible, all their teachings will naturally result in contradictory to the Bible.  Beware of their perverted Teachings.  If a person does not honor Christ, reject him (1 Jn. 4 : 1-3 ; 2 Jn. 10).
How to win the cults for Christ
                   It is very difficult to win back a cult to Christ.  However, if there is an opportunity, you can approach them prayerfully and scripturally.  The following suggestion may help you.
  1. First of all, you, yourself prepare thoroughly in the knowledge of God’s word (1 Tim. 4 : 15-16 ; 2 Tim. 2 : 15).
  2. Do not argue with a cult. Argument will not bring any profit. (2 Tim. 2 : 14, 16 –18, 24)
  3. Realize that a Cult is under the influence of Satan (2 Tim. 2 : 18 , 25-26).
  4. Patiently try to teach the truth (2 Tim. 2 : 25).
  5. If they continually argue with you, and deny the truth, you avoid them (2 Tim. 2 : 23 ; Rom. 16 : 17).
  6. Although a cult rejects your teaching and your faith on God’s word, you continue in your faith based on God’s word, interpreted properly (2 Tim. 3 : 14-17).  Do  not be discouraged if they do not accept Christ..
  7. Believe, God has given you eternal life in Christ. You overcome your faith by believing Christ (1 Jn. 5 : 1-5).
Assignments for students
  1. How will you present the deity of Jesus Christ to a follower of Jehovah Witness?
  2. How will you prove that Seventh – Day Adventism is cult movement? Write with Bible references.
  3. How to prevent the church believers from falling in the trap of cults?
  4. How will you face a cult follower without wavering in your faith?
Note : After writing these answers, please send your assignment papers to CALS.  Please write your Register Number on your Assignment papers.