We are coming to the end of our long running apologetics series, where I have covered all sorts of subjects to help us lead people to Jesus. We have looked at many of the questions that people will ask us as they seek to understand what Christianity is all about.
Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at the major world religions and briefly covered what they are about. It’s important to know where people are coming from. This week and next week we will look at some of the cults that we are perhaps even more likely to encounter, as many of them are very evangelistic.
A lot of them, upon first encounter, will seem very Christian. They use many of the same words as we do, but on further investigation, you realise they are a cult.
‘Cult’ is a very negative term (cults never use it to describe themselves) and so I think it is important to explain what I mean when I use the term.
Generally a cult is a group which is unorthodox, they would be devoted to a new teaching, theology or doctrine and they are usually associated with a very strong leader. They will often challenge the established church, calling them apostate and declaring that they (the cult) alone hold the truth. They also generally look to control their members physically, intellectually, financially and emotionally.They do this through fear, threatening loss of salvation if someone leaves the group or through indoctrination. A lot of their teachings that deviate from traditional Christianity cannot be substantiated, due to them being revealed by some special revelation to just one or a select few. These revelations can be quite outrageous involving; space ships, special glasses or special angelic visitation and weird dreams.
Next week I am going to look at the two which I encounter the most and certainly where I live are more prevalent; Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons, but let’s this week have a brief look at some of the others.
The Unification Church (aka the ‘Moonies’)
The Moonies were founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1954 in Korea. Moon claims that in 1935 Jesus appeared to him on a mountain in Korea and told him to finish the work of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. He believes he has since received many revelations from God. On May 1, 1954, in Seoul, Moon founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. In 1958 he sent missionaries to Japan and in 1959 to America. Moon moved to the United States in 1971.
They are well known for holding mass weddings. In August of 1992 in Seoul Korea, Moon presided over a mass wedding of 3,000 couples.
Moon claims to be the messiah of the Second Coming and his wife is the Holy Spirit. He and his wife, called The True Parents where he is the True Father and his wife the True Mother, are the first couple to be able to bring forth children with no original sin. “The cross is the symbol of the defeat of Christianity.” The Bible is considered scripture along with Moon’s work “Divine Principles.” Sin is genetically based. It is not a moral issue. Adam and Eve fell because of sexual sin. Eve had sexual relations with Satan. Jesus is a ‘true person’ though not God in flesh. The Holy Spirit is ‘the True Mother,’ or ‘the Second Eve.” The church denies the doctrine of the Trinity.
They believe that people determine their own future place in the spirit world after death through what they do here on earth.
Moon has his own worldwide empire of many different businesses and financial institutions to gain support and influence. His 536 page book called Divine principles he considers as inspired and equal to scripture. He has spent time in a US prison for tax evasion. He has been involved in seances and other occult practices like clairvoyance, trances, etc.
There are approximately 3 million Moonies worldwide.
Scientology was founded in Los Angeles in the nineteen fifties by a science fiction author, L.Ron Hubbard.
He said human beings contained the souls of Thetans — immortal creatures responsible for making the universe.
However, the world has been invaded by dark forces — the Engrams — and individuals can be cleansed and enlightened only through intense therapy called Dianetics.
It is a costly process and the Scientologists expect their adherents to donate considerable sums.
In the United States, Scientology enjoys the full rights of a recognised religion and has attracted a number of Hollywood celebrities, probably the most famous being Tom Cruise.
In Europe, the business side of Scientology has prompted several governments to deprive it of tax exemptions enjoyed by other churches.
Christadelphianism is a relatively new religious system. It claims, like many other non-Christian cults, to be the authentic Christian Church with authentic Christian doctrines. However, it denies the Trinity doctrine as well as the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In addition, it states that the Devil is not a real person but is, instead, our own natural tendency to sin. They also says that Jesus was a created being who had a fallen nature who himself needed to be redeemed. There are certain disagreements as to the extent of Jesus fallen nature amongst some of them, but nevertheless, they all deny the deity of Christ and this is enough to put them outside the camp of Christianity.
This cult is a real misnomer; it is neither Christian or scientific. Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who argued in her book Science and Health(1875) that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone.Science and health is meant to be a companion to the bible but many of its teachings are contradictory to the bible. Here are some of its teachings with the science and health references;
- God is just a Universal Principle, S&H331:18-19.
- God cannot indwell a person, S&H336:19-20.
- God is the only intelligence in the universe, including man S&H330:11-12.
- God is Mind, S&H 330:20-21; 469:13.
- God is the Father-Mother, S&H l331:30; 332:4.
- The Trinity is Life, Truth, and Love, S&H331:26.
- Belief in the traditional doctrine of the Trinity is polytheism, S&H256:9-11.
- Jesus was not the Christ, S&H333:3-15; 334:3.
- “Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared . . . ” S&H361:12-13.
- Jesus did not reflect the fullness of God, S&H336:20-21.
- Jesus did not die, S&H45:32-46:3.
- The Holy Spirit is divine science, S&H331:31.
- There is no devil, S&H469:13-17.
- There is no sin, S&H447:24.
- Evil and good are not real, S&H330:25-27; 470:9-14.
- “Matter, sin, and sickness are not real, but only illusions,” S&H335:7-15; 447:27-28.”The sacrifice of Jesus was not sufficient to cleanse from sin,” S&H25:6.
- “True healings are the result of true belief,” S&H194:6.
Additionally, Christian Scientists prefer not to use doctors, medicine, or immunizations. Christian Science Practitioners are used to help people through the false reality of illness.
Proper prayer and training are employed to battle the “non-reality” of illness.
They have no ordinances like the Lord’s Supper or baptism.
In the early 20th century Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States, with nearly 270,000 members there by 1936. This has since declined somewhat.