Understanding the Cults

In almost every religious system, some beliefs go so beyond the boundaries of orthodoxy that they are classified as “cults” or “sects.” This is particularly true in the case of the Christian faith. 

Topics: False Teaching

In almost every religious system, some beliefs go so beyond the boundaries of orthodoxy that they are classified as “cults” or “sects.” This is particularly true in the case of the Christian faith.

A number of groups pass themselves off as “Christian” while rejecting central Christian doctrine. Among these, the most familiar are probably Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and Jehovah’s Witnesses. As these religions have denied essential elements of historic Christian belief, they are not classified as “denominations” or “branches” of Christianity but rather as unchristian cults.

Without going into great detail on the various errors of both groups and the Christian response to such errors, I want instead to provide a few helpful resources for those wishing to study the errors, especially for those who hope to evangelistically engage those who are enslaved to such doctrines.

Below are a few of the more pressing theological concerns of these particular cults1 and some suggested resources.

Mormonism

  • Teaches that the Father was at one time a man, just like us, and BECAME a “god” (perhaps “God” depending on how they use it) at some point
  • Teaches that the Father is flesh and blood
  • Teaches that Jesus and Satan are equally sons of the Father
  • Teaches that we (humans) can become gods and start the process all over again
  • Rejects the Trinity by teaching multiple “gods”
  • Rejects the virgin birth of Jesus
  • Denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone by teaching salvation through works (including necessary membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Jehovah’s Witnesses

  • Rejects the doctrine of the Trinity
  • Teaches that Jesus was created and thus a lesser “god” than the Father
  • Teaches that Jesus experienced a non-physical “spiritual” resurrection and His return was a non-physical “spiritual” return which has already occurred
  • Rejects the deity of the Holy Spirit
  • Denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone by teaching salvation through works (including necessary membership in a church of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • Rejects the doctrine of hell and eternal judgment

Recommended Resources

As discussed in a previous blog about countering the claims of Bible contradiction, the single most important defense against the cults is simply a better understanding of true Christianity. Both Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses prey upon those who are biblically illiterate and unable to expose the erroneous claims of the cults. In addition to reading books and articles about the cults, make sure you continue to read the Bible. In general, I recommend www.irr.org and www.carm.org for their work on the cults and major religious movements. At the same time, I would state a disclaimer that when you move beyond these particular topics (cults and major religious movements), some of the theological counsel given by these websites would not align with those of The Village. Bottom line, they are sound on the fundamentals of the faith, but sometimes disagree with our theological distinctives. In addition to IRR and CARM, this site has some really helpful resources on various cults. Lastly, the ESV Study Bible has a really helpful overview of the deficiencies of the cults. I highly recommend this Bible as it is an invaluable resource for Scripture study.

Books


Footnotes

1 Perhaps some of the above would not be believed by every single adherent and thus wisdom and love suggest that you get to know the individual beliefs of the individual. “Not every Mormon believes the same thing as every other Mormon.”

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