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PATTERNS IN THE CULTS

Written by: Watchman Fellowship    Posted on: 05/01/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

                      PATTERNS IN THE CULTS                               by                     Watchman Fellowship, Inc.                             P.O. Box                       Birmingham, AL 35219

Cults!  The mere mention of the word brings to mind Jim Jones and the Jonestown tragedy, Charles Manson and the Tate-La Bianca murders, and a host of other bizarre individuals and groups.

However, most cults are not that bizarre.  Their followers dress like everyone else, work normal jobs, and by and large, are very sincere and honest individuals.  As a matter of fact, most of the followers use Christian terminology very fluently, thus making a cult very difficult to spot.  The difference between the cult and true Christianity lies in belief.

Though the average cult member will confess a belief in Jesus Christ, a reliance on the Bible as his authority, and devotion to God as a lifestyle, in reality, all of the terms have been redefined.  What appears on the surface to be Christian deviates greatly from what the Scriptures actually teach concerning the key doctrines of the Christian faith.

Due to this subtle deception, it is imperative that people know what to look for in trying to determine if a particular group is a cult or not.  In light of this need, there are four basic patterns which exist in all cults who claim to be Christian.

                    ADDING TO THE WORD OF GOD

The first pattern apparent in all cults is the habit of adding to the Bible instead of accepting it as the sole authority of one's faith.  Throughout scripture, God warns against this practice. For example, in Proverbs 30:5-6, the Bible states, "Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them who put their trust in Him.  Add not to His words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." However, the cults disregard this warning constantly as the following examples clearly show.

MORMONISM:

In the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), they state in the eighth article, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."

Note the condition placed on the Bible,"...as far as it is translated correctly" whereas the Book of Mormon is accepted as scripture, period!!  Thus, the Book of Mormon takes precedence over the Bible.  In addition, Mormons consider the "Doctrine and Covenants" and "The Pearl of Great Price" as scripture.

THE UNIFICATION CHURCH (the Moonies):

In the Divine Principle, the following statement is made, "The Bible, however, is not the truth itself, but a textbook teaching the truth.  Naturally, the quality of teaching and the method and extent of giving the truth must vary according to each age... Therefore, we must not regard the textbook as absolute in every detail." (p.9)

In other words, the Bible is true only in a relative sense, not an absolute sense, thus opening the doors for the Moonies to accept any source as their authority, whether it contradicts the Bible or not!

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES:

Whereas the Jehovah's Witnesses state they believe that the Bible is God's Word, their writings make it very clear that one must read The Watchtower in order to understand it.  In the book, "Qualified to Be Ministers," they state,"... The Watchtower shows the Bible to be the one practical guide for modern times.  It is all important to study the Bible, and, since The Watchtower assists in understanding the Bible, its study is also imperative (p.156)

On the same page Witnesses are told to "believe all things" that The Watchtower brings out.  This teaching effectively makes the The Watchtower publications an inspired commentary on the Bible with complete obedience required.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE:

Like most cults, Christian Scientists affirm that the Bible is God's Word and the source for their teachings (Science and Health, p.126).  However, on page 139 of Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy states, "... the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New, these facts should show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening, to some extent, the inspired pages."

Thus, the Bible is full of errors leading the Christian Scientist to rely on only one source of authority, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the church.

                    SUBTRACTING FROM CHRIST

The second and most important pattern to look for is the practice of subtracting from the person of Jesus Christ, usually by denying the fact that He is God.  This belief is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and supported by numerous passages of Scripture (John 1:1, John 20:27-28, Relevation 1:17 compared with Isaiah 44:6).

Nevertheless, from the beginning of the Christian Church, there have been those who have distorted the person of Jesus Christ, thus creating another Jesus.  In II Corinthians 11:4, Paul dealt with this problem when he scolded the Corinthian Christians for accepting another Jesus, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached... ye might well bear with him."

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES:

The Jehovah's Witnesses have done one of the most thorough jobs in creating another Jesus.  In "The Truth Shall Make You Free," they state, "Being the only begotten Son of God and the 'firstborn of every creature,' the Word would be a prince among all other creatures.  In this office, he bore another name in heaven, which name is 'Michael'" (p.49).  In other words, Jesus is merely a created being, not God the Creator.

They further teach that after Jesus' death, God the Father disposed of his body and he was resurrected as a spirit creature, ("Things In Which it is Impossible for God to Lie," p.354; "Let God be True," p.138).

This is definitely not the Jesus of Scripture who has always existed, created all things, died for our sins, and rose again bodily!

MORMONISM:

While appearing to be the Jesus of Scripture, the Jesus of Mormonism is also "another Jesus."  In "Gospel Through the Ages," he is identified as the spirit brother of Lucifer (p.15).  Joseph Felding Smith, the tenth president of the church, denied that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost and Brigham Young consistently denied that the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross through the shedding of his blood was sufficient for all sins ("Doctrines of Salvation," Vol. 1, p.19; "Journal of Discourses," Vol. 4, pp.219- 220).

Besides these errors, Mormonism holds to polytheism, the belief in many gods, thus making Jesus one of many gods ("Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," p.349).

UNITY SCHOOL OF CHRISTIANITY:

Like many of the Mind Science cults, Unity denies the deity of Jesus Christ by dividing Jesus and Christ.  Charles Fillmore wrote in "Jesus Christ Heals" that "Christ, meaning 'messiah' or 'anointed,' designates one who had received a spiritual quickening from God, while Jesus is the name of the personality... Christ is the name of the supermind and Jesus is the name of the personal consciousness," (p.10).

                MULTIPLYING TERMS OF SALVATION

In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul clearly stated, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."

The Word of God plainly teaches that salvation is a gift that God offers sinful man.  There is nothing anyone can do to earn it, it is the gift to be accepted or rejected.  Through this teaching is so clear in the Scriptures, the cults constantly pervert it.

WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD:

A perfect example of this pattern is found in the witnessing of Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of the Worldwide Church of God, which publishes the magazine, "The Plain Truth."  In the "Ambassador College Correspondence Course" the following statement is made: "Most professing Christians think they were 'Born Again' when 'they accepted Christ' and 'were baptized.'  From that time, supposedly, they received the Holy Spirit and have been living a New Life in Christ." (Lesson 8, p.3). .PG Armstrong further states in his book, "Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?", "You shall be saved by Grace, but God does lay down conditions.  You can comply, and receive glorious GRACE - or you can rebel, and pay the DEATH PENALTY - for eternity!" (p.107).

Thus, while teaching salvation by grace, Armstrong has redefined grace to include conditions which one must keep in order to receive eternal life.  By doing so, he has nullified the meaning of grace for grace is God's undeserving love which He pours out on mankind.

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES:

The Jehovah's Witnesses also hold to a works salvation.  In "Let God be True" The Watchtower states that "Immortality is a reward for faithfulness," (p.74).  Notice that the word "reward" is used, thus implying one's works determines their salvation!

This view was presented very clearly in the February 15, 1983 issue of "The Watchtower" on pages 12-13.  In this issue, four requirements were given for salvation: a knowledge of God's purposes, obedience to God's laws, association with God's organization, and loyally advocating God's Kingdom rule to others.

MORMONISM:

In advocating a works salvation, The Mormon Church clearly presents its case.  In the book "Doctrines of Salvation" by Joseph Fielding Smith, he states that for one "...to be exalted one must keep the whole law... to receive the exaltation of the righteous, in other words eternal life, the commandments of the Lord must be kept in all things." (Vol.2, p.6).

                  DIVIDING FOLLOWER'S LOYALTY

The fourth pattern found in the cults is the practice of dividing the loyalty of the follower between God and an organization or individual.  Whereas the cult will convince its followers that they are an organization wholly devoted to God, the follower is taught to put his trust in the organization instead of God.

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES:

A clear example of this can be found in two issues of The Watchtower magazine released in 1979.  The May 15th issue posed the question, "Is Your Trust in God or in a Man?"

By the wording and the graphics on the cover, the writers were emphasizing one putting their trust in God.  However, two months earlier, in the March 1st issue, the cover read, "Put Faith in a Victorious Organization."  So, as Jehovah's Witnesses, in whom do you trust: God or the Watchtower Society?  In all reality, The Watchtower for they are placed before the Witnesses as God's only true organization on earth (The Watchtower, July 1, 1973, p.402).

Thus, while the Witness believes he is trusting God, his loyalty has been divided between God and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

MORMONISM:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also guilty of this deceptive practice.  Throughout their writings, one will find numerous challenges and instructions concerning placing one's faith in God.  However, on February 26, 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson gave a lecture at Brigham Young University titled, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophets."

The second fundamental stated, "The Living Prophet is More Vital to Us Than The Standard Works."  In Mormonism, the standard works include the "Book of Mormon," the "Doctrine and Covenants," and the Bible.

In explaining this point, he quoted Brigham Young who said in reference between the words of the prophet and the standard works, "When compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me... I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books."

WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD:

Herbert W. Armstrong created this division in the Worldwide Church of God by stressing that the Worldwide Church of God is the only true church.  In his book, "Where is the True Church?" Armstrong makes this belief quite clear that the true church will be named the Church of God. .PG On page 26, he stated, "In some New Testament instances, a descriptive term is added to the name, as the Church of God at Corinth...  And today, it is the Worldwide Church of God."  By placing the Worldwide Church of God in the position as the only true church, Armstrong has placed it before the members as the basis for authority in matters of faith and conscience.  Therefore, the member's faith is actually placed in the church, not God!

Over and over again, this deceptive practice is found throughout the cults as the followers are told to put their faith in God alone, but then are led to place their faith in the cult!  The sad thing is that many cultists are so deceived that they don't see the division and feel that they are fully trusting God.

                          AN INVITATION

As you have read through this vital information on how to spot a cult, some patterns may have sounded similar to some practices in a group to which you belong.  If so, you are involved in a group which is not based solidly on the Word of God.  Due to that, you may have never been told to place your faith in Jesus alone, who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6).  If this is the case, we invite you to trust Him alone as your Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, you may have already made this important decision and are actively involved in a strong Christ-centered church.  However, just because you are a believer, do not ever think that you could never be led astray and begin adopting some of these patterns in your own life. Remember, these patterns are presented in a very subtle fashion using Christian terminology and the Bible as a springboard!

If you have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Watchman Fellowship at the address listed below. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Copied with permission from the Watchman Expositor.  For a free subscription to this monthly newspaper write the Watchman Fellowship office nearest you:

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